It’s going to be hard for some distinguishing music fans to acknowledge that the paradigm in mainstream country is shifting. At this point, lashing out at any artist on corporate radio is an act of muscle memory, and often unlearning those motions is harder than learning them. This most certainly doesn’t mean there still isn’t dreck being dumped into the country radio format, and like the solids in a cesspool, that tend to rise to the surface, and fester. But it’s not 2014 anymore where we’re in the throes of Bro-Country, and dry heaving at the emergence of Sam Hunt.
Even though some mainstream fans will praise him like he’s the modern day Townes Van Zandt or something, HARDY has mostly been one of the bad guys in mainstream country, crafting songs for Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett and the like, along with some of the worst singles from better artists like Dirks Bentley. But his new song “Wait in the Truck” featuring Lainey Wilson is stimulating a lot of discussion—something that’s novel for a country radio single all unto itself. Usually the aim of most of today’s radio country is to shut your brain off.
Written by Hardy with Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt and Renee Blair, “Wait in the Truck” is a story song, and not a succinct one. Part revenge story, part murder ballad, it can’t be pile-driven home enough just how it is for a song like this to be presented to the mainstream audience. It’s not exceptional, but it is exceptional for mainstream country. It’s also actually country.
Telling the story of a stranger rolling through town and finding a woman on the side of the road who’s been beaten by her boyfriend, the protagonist then hunts the boyfriend down and kills him unrepentantly, later smoking a cigarette on the porch, patiently for the police to arrive. The story is then carried over to the court and jail, where the audience is forced to grapple with considering if the narrator of the story is a hero, or a sinner, or a strange combination of both.
Lainey Wilson comes in as the victim of the beating, and her appearance on a song like this once again places her front and center as one of the more forward-thinking and more country voices currently in the mainstream. It’s just a shame it has to be done in a “feat.” slot again, though this is leagues better than her recent #1 single with Cole Swindell, or her own current single “Heart Like a Truck.” With a new album out in late October to be chased by appearances on the blockbuster TV show YellowstoneLainey’s poised to have a big finale at the end of 2022 when this song could also be topping radio charts.
There are a few caveats to throw in with all the praise this song is receiving. Though you have to give credit to “Wait in the Truck” for its boldness and for actually telling a story, do we really find it believable, and do we really want to endorse this type of mercenary justice? There are two sides to every story, and according to the song, the domestic violence victim didn’t even really tell hers in detail. “Wait in the Truck” is more vengeance fantasy than a cautionary tale. But the way the song makes you ponder the different outcomes and decisions and ask, “Was it worth it?” is what makes it unique.
That’s also what makes it an important song in the country mainstream: it actually makes you think.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)