Understanding The Message Behind Jelly Roll’s Latest Single, ‘Halfway To Hell’

Jelly Roll says he wanted to open the album with a song that meant something. That’s why he chose “Halfway To Hell.”


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

January 3, 2024

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Jelly Roll; Photo by ABC/John Argueta

Fresh off three consecutive No.1 singles, Jelly Roll is set to release the track “Halfway To Hell” as his next single to country radio. Here, we explore the lyrics and meaning of the song.

The song is already a fan-favorite and appears as the opening track of his debut country record, Whitsitt Chapel.  

Why Did Jelly Roll Choose To Open The Album With This Track?

“‘Halfway to Hell’ baby, the best way to start the album, an absolute banger! I wanted to start this album with something hard, and something that meant something and something that felt something,” he explained. “And something that was about that constant duality of life that I love to write songs about. Being somewhere between right and wrong.”

Written by Jelly Roll with Jesse Frasure, Matt Jenkins, and Jessie Jo Dillon, “Halfway To Hell” finds the genre-bending star crooning over finding balance in his life between Heaven and Hell. It’s an autobiographical tune that mirrors Jelly Roll’s real life as he previously served time in prison and now uses his newfound fame to do good in the world. 

Listen To “Halfway To Hell”

YouTube video

On the opening verse, Jelly Roll sings, “I’m a county jail revival/ I’m a bottle and a Bible/ I’m a rolling stone disciple/ With a cross across my face/ I’m a trailer park tornado/ Jagged edges on my halo/ Hope the chariot gon’ swing low/ And carry me away.”

As the song continues, the newly crowned CMA New Artist of the Year paints a vivid picture of the struggle he faces with inner conflict and being torn between two forces. An example of this is the lines “I’m a dive bar Sunday sermon/ Holy water with my bourbon.” 

In the chorus, he ponders, “Halfway to Heaven or halfway to hell/ My angels and demons at war with myself/ One foot in the fire and I still can’t tell/ Am I halfway to Heaven/ Halfway to Heaven or hell?” 

What Is The Meaning Of Jelly Roll’s Song “Halfway To Hell?”

Overall, the song explores themes of inner conflict, redemption, and the constant battle between right and wrong. 

Jelly Roll; Photo by: Todd Owyoung/NBC
Jelly Roll; Photo by: Todd Owyoung/NBC

He Previously Performed “Halfway To Hell” On The Tonight Show

In October, Jelly Roll had the opportunity to bring the song to national television during his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. During his standout performance, the Tennessee native gave a nod to his son, Noah, with his name on the lapel of his shirt. 

The current GRAMMY nominee will officially send the song to country radio on January 22, according to Country Aircheck. This will follow his previous radio chart-toppers “Son of a Sinner,” “Need a Favor,” and “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson. 

Kicked Off 2024 With A Bang

The breakout star wrapped up his wildly successful year by seeing a lifelong dream come true with his performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2024. Performing live from Times Square, Jelly Roll shared a mashup of his hits, including “Halfway to Hell”, “Wild Ones” (with Jessie Murph), and “Need a Favor” with fans watching around the world. 

Jelly Roll with daughter, Bailey Bailee Ann, and wife, Bunnie XO; Photo Courtesy Jelly Roll, Instagram
Jelly Roll with daughter, Bailey Bailee Ann, and wife, Bunnie XO; Photo Courtesy Jelly Roll, Instagram

He had his daughter, Bailee Ann, and wife, Bunnie XO, by his side for this monumental moment and later reflected on meant to him to be a part of the iconic New Year’s Eve show. 

He wrote, “I’ll try to make this short. When I was growing up Nashville was a really small town. Like 1/6 of what it is now. And even though Nashville was a party town even back then , we didn’t have a big New Year’s Eve scene when I was a kid. And my daddy would always say ‘we don’t go out and drink with the amateurs on holidays’ so we always stayed in, and back then especially, just like the rest of the world our eyes would be glued to BALL in Times Square.”

In Disbelief

The chart-topping star went on to explain how the show has been a focal point of so many New Year’s Eve nights in his life and admitted that he is in disbelief that he had the chance to perform. 

Jelly Roll performs in Times Square on New Year's Eve
Jelly Roll; Photo by ABC/John Argueta

“I have literally watched dozens of Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve. Even a few of New Year’s that Bunnie and I have been together we have watched this show. And both talked about how much it meant to our childhood,” he shared. “To get the call to not only be a participant in it but to also be able to bring my family was something I will cherish forever. I got to watch the Ball drop in the middle of Times Square standing next to my Daughter, Wife, Ryan Seacrest and LL Cool J on National Television.” 

Jelly Roll confessed that these are moments that he “never even dreamed could happen.” 

After a landmark year in 2023, it’s safe to say fans are already anticipating what Jelly Roll has in store for 2024.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.