Meaning Behind the Modern Murder Ballad, “wait in the truck,” by HARDY and Lainey Wilson

The meaning behind the HARDY-Lainey Wilson collaboration that has cleaned house at award shows as of late is one of violence, backwoods justice, and a stranger heaven sent. The modern-day murder ballad, “wait in the truck,” tells a difficult story. The country song story is mostly fiction, but it casts an important light on a harsh reality and something that often quietly affects so many.

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The Origins

“Wait in the Track” began as a conversation between HARDY and songwriter Hunter Phelps, telling Billboard that they were throwing around hypotheticals, like what they would do if someone harmed their significant others.

HARDY said that he would simply tell his partner to direct him to the assailant’s location and then ask that she wait in the truck. “We just kind of laughed,” HARDY recalled to the outlet. “And then we had that songwriter moment where we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh shit. “wait in the truck” is a good song title.’”

That marked the beginning of the modern-day murder ballad that has taken country music by storm. Written by HARDY and Phelps alongside Jordan Schmidt and Renee Blair, “wait in the truck” deals with domestic violence and the vigilante justice that follows. The song story is a fictional one, however, it sheds light on a tough, but very real subject.

“The topic isn’t talked about a lot; these are things that [often] happen behind closed doors,” the song’s co-vocalist and female point-of-view, Lainey Wilson, told the Tennessean. “This one is going to start a conversation that a lot of people don’t want to have, but it is our job as artists to sing about things that people are [sometimes] scared to talk about.

“Domestic abuse is a fragile subject,” she added, “but I hope this song brings light to a situation that is more common than we’d like to admit. For the abusers, I hope this song haunts them. For the victims, I hope they know they’re not alone.”

The darkly-tinged tune is one HARDY says he’s most proud of for that very reason. “It speaks on something very important, domestic violence,” the song’s lead added in conversation with the Nashville-based newspaper. “At the end of the day I just really hope that this gives somebody a platform to speak out.”

The Lyrics

The story of “Wait in the Truck” emerges from the hammering of steel strings, dust clouding from each decisive pluck, as a distant rattling sends shivers up the spine.

I got turned around in some little town, HARDY’s voice cuts through the song’s thick air, I’d never been to before / Working my way through a middle-of-June / Midnight thunderstorm / There was something in the headlights / It stopped me on a dime / Well, she was scared to death, so I said / “Climb in”, and in she climbed / Oh, yeah

The woman he picked up was visibly battered, bruised and broke from head to toe, he sings. She didn’t tell him much about what happened because she didn’t have to. It was written all over her torn shirt and the bloodstains she was wearing. I didn’t load her down with questions, HARDY continues, That girl had been through enough / I just threw it in drive, looked in those eyes / And I asked her where he was.

Wilson’s voice comes in, taking up the role of the woman. Her part gives the song humanity, acting as a tool of sorts to avoid painting the narrator as some stranger itching for revenge. “I don’t think we wanted it to be like, ‘This guy’s just impulsive and kind of an idiot,’” one of the song’s writers, Schmidt, detailed. “We wanted to give him a redeeming quality.”

I don’t know if he’s an angel, she sings, foreshadowing the events to come, ‘Cause angels don’t do what he did / He was hellbent to find the man behind / All the whiskey scars I hid / I never thought my day of justice / Would come from a judge under a seat / But I knew right then I’d never get hit again / When he said to me… Wait in the truck.

The narrator finds the abuser and kicks in his door after no answer. From there, vigilante justice takes over. I let the hammer drop before he got / To that twelve he was reaching for, HARDY sings, I didn’t try to hide my pistol / I didn’t even try to run / I just sat on the porch, smoking one of his cigarettes / And waited for the cops to come.

Wilson again takes up her part, calling the stranger an angel. I never thought my day of justice / Would come from a judge under a seat / But I knew right then I’d never get hit again / When he said to me… Wait in the truck.

A choir erupts as HARDY and Wilson trade off singing, Have mercy on me, Lord / Have mercy on me.

It’s been sixty months and she still comes / To see me from time to time, HARDY continues, insinuating the narrator is now serving time, but adds It was worth the price, to see a brighter side / Of the girl I picked up that night.

The song closes on Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy on me after HARDY drops the final lines: And I might be here forever / It ain’t paradise that’s true / But it’s whole hell of a lot better / Than the place I sent him to.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

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