The 10 Best Revenge Country Songs—From Nancy Sinatra, Carrie Underwood and More

As much as a lonesome ballad or a song tailor-made for a round at the bar with your friends have long been conventions of country music, you’ll also find a fair few artists that are using their three minutes to avenge some sins.

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Carrie Underwood grabs her baseball bat and Miranda Lambert loads up a gun while Loretta Lynn is sticking to good ole’ fashioned fisticuffs—whatever the lyrical weapon, these artists are locked and loaded and ready to prove “what goes around comes around.”

Below, let’s look into 10 country songs that forget taking the high road and instead start getting even. Let’s dive in.

1. “These Boots Were Made For Walking” (Nancy Sinatra)

Nancy Sinatra’s career was on the decline before she recorded “These Boots Were Made For Walking” in 1966 – so much so she was about to be dropped from her famous father’s record label. Producer Lee Hazlewood came to her with an off-kilter tune he’d originally written for himself before realizing Sinatra’s sultry delivery was just the ticket to make this track a hit.

The walking double bass line makes you feel like you too could slide on a pair of high-heeled boots and strut out the door with your head held high. This song has long been a revenge classic.

2. “The Cold Hard Facts of Life” (Porter Wagoner)

In this track, Porter Wagoner, our narrator, arrives back in town early hoping to find his missus happy to see him back. Instead, the surprise quickly turns sour when he runs into a man at the liquor store who is also buying booze for his lady. “Her husband’s out of town,” he says to the cashier. Wagoner wises up to the whole ordeal when the guy drives straight to his house. After finishing off an entire bottle, he decides to take things into his own hands—let’s just say there’s a knife and jail time involved.

3. “Sweet Revenge” (John Prine)

While lyrics can certainly serve up a healthy dose of revenge, sometimes it’s the song itself that is an act of retaliation.

After John Prine’s second album failed to gain the traction that his lauded debut did, he began suffering from a bit of an existential crisis. For his third LP, Sweet Revenge, Prine chose to take the time to respond to the naysayers with his trademark humor in tow. The milkman left me a note yesterday / “Get out of this town by noon / You’re coming on way too soon/ And besides that, we never liked you anyway,” he sings before replying with Sweet revenge / will prevail / without fail, letting everyone know he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

4. “Better Than Revenge” (Taylor Swift)

Taylor Swift has no shortage of lyrical revenge in her songs. From “Picture to Burn” to “All Too Well,” it’s Swift that gets the last laugh. This 2010 cut from Speak Now is perhaps the most blatant example of her knack for retribution.

There’s nothing I do better than revenge, she sings in the chorus, stating her intentions for the track clearly. Though she never names exactly what she is going to do to the actress that stole her man, Swift knows how to get pop culture talking with her lyrics. This song is allegedly about actress Camilla Belle, who dated pop prince Joe Jonas soon after Swift and thus had her dirty laundry aired far and wide.

5. “Goodbye Earl” (The Chicks)

This murder ballad was penned by Dennis Linde—a songwriter with a number of perennial hits underneath his belt like Elvis’ “Burnin’ Love.” In “Goodbye Earl,” however, if anything is burning inside these two women it’s unadulterated hate.

In this Thelma and Louise-inspired revenge fantasy, The Chicks’ Natalie Maines tells the story of best friends Mary Anne and Wanda who decide quite quickly after the latter starts getting abused that the only way to remedy the situation is to poison Earl’s black-eyed peas, wrap him up in a tarp and throw him in the lake. “Goodbye Earl” certainly wasn’t the only controversial thing The Chicks ever did, but it’s undoubtedly the most fun.

6. “Independence Day” (Martina McBride)

While upon first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking this track is a patriotic ode, it is instead a song about domestic abuse and one woman’s drastic measures to escape.

Well, she lit up the sky that fourth of July / By the time that the firemen come / They just put out the flames…Now I ain’t sayin’ it’s right or it’s wrong / But maybe it’s the only way, she sings. Though the intended meaning may have been lost on some listeners, McBride says the song did indeed reach its intended audience: “I started getting all these letters—handwritten letters, back in the day—from women saying, ‘This is my song. I got a few letters that said, ‘I heard this song on the radio, I’ve been battered for 10 years, and I left. This was the thing that made me realize that it’s not my fault, that I need to make a change.'”

7. “Trailer For Rent” (Pistol Annies)

Pistol Annies—Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley—never sounded as primed for revenge as they do in this track.

Tired of her husband’s “shit,” a wife leaves food on the stove and splits town, but not before leaving an ad in the local paper advertising that the titular trailer is in need of a new tenant. Jumping ahead a few years, the unaware husband is still sprawled out on the couch, about a 12-pack in, likely not even noticing his wife has gone missing. All’s well that ends well for the pistol of a wife though.

8. “Fist City” (Loretta Lynn)

Loretta Lynn has never been one to shy away from controversial themes in her music. Though it often earned her some trouble from radio in the ’60s, it has undoubtedly made her an enduring icon today.

In “Fist City,” Lynn tells anyone wanting to pursue her husband while he is out on the road to listen and listen good: You’d better close your face and stay outta my way / If you don’t wanna go to fist city.

9. “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Miranda Lambert)

It’s no coincidence that Lambert has made it onto this list twice. She has no shortage of songs steeped in revenge. While a number of them have become familiar passages to anyone going through a hard break-up, we’re looking at “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

In this track, Lambert tries to explain to her clean-cut momma that she can’t be blamed for anything she does. He did her wrong, and after all, things are not the way they used to be in her day.

10. Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood)

This song has rung out of many a karaoke bar speaker while the voice of a woman scorned has given it her all, singing the lyrics to anyone there to hear. Written by Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear, “Before He Cheats” was first unleashed on the world in 2006 and nearly a decade later it’s still hitting as hard as ever.

On this career-making single, Carrie Underwood is giving us all license to let go and move on—albeit with a fair bit of property damage in our wake.

Photo Courtesy of CMA

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