Country music is rich with murder ballads — emotional tales of revenge that often end in some ne’er-do-well getting the comeuppance they richly deserve, frequently at the hands of one of their victims or someone acting on their behalf.
The latest entry in the legacy is HARDY’s searing “Wait in the Truck,” featuring Lainey Wilson: a brutal, bleak story of a man who picks up a woman he quickly discovers has been bruised and battered. He can’t heal her, but he decides he can stop her from ever being hurt again. The man drives to her home, takes his gun from under his seat, kills her abuser and then coolly waits for the cop — all while she waits in the truck. HARDY and Wilson trade off verses to tell their story. After five years, she still visits him in jail, but there’s no hint of a prison romance, or even that he will ever be released — just cold comfort that she is now safe.
The matter-of-fact song, written by HARDY, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt and Renee Blair, is lighting up country music, with CMA song of the year whispers already emerging.
The time-honored theme extends back far before the modern country era — Lloyd Price’s 1959 classic “Stagger Lee” is based on an 1895 murder, and the first sung version surfaced in 1911 — but no genre has embraced the trope as thoroughly as country.
Below are some of country music’s other best (and most popular) murder ballads over the last 75 years.