Love, heartbreak, jealousy, and someone ending up in a grave are the recipe for the perfect murder ballad, and I will never get tired of listening to them.
It’s really country music storytelling at its finest.
A tune that perfectly encompasses all of this is The Steel Woods’ “Della Jane’s Heart,” and frankly, in the grand scheme of great country music murder ballads, this tune does not get enough love.
From their 2017 album, Straw In The Wind, the honk-tonk melody captures the complex feelings of Della Jane after she was wronged and left by the man she was seeing.
The second verse captures these emotions perfectly through the lyrics…and after hearing this verse, you know a storm is brewing in Della Jane’s mind.
“The cold wind was blowing as she waited for his embrace But it only got colder when she saw the look on his face His blindsiding words of his new love for Anna Lee Filled her with rage as he told her of their plans to leave…”
In the last verse, the listener finds out the tragic ending of Della Jane’s lover. But before you get to that point, you get a killer guitar solo.
“With her knees in the mud she looked up and prayed “Lord, please wash all of my sins and his body away…”
The fast-paced country rock song perfectly disguises the dark story within the lyrics, but it is so addictive to listen to.
And here’s the kicker, it’s part of a 5-song series telling the story of this tragic love triangle between Della Jane, Anna Lee, and the late Jimmy Sutherland.
“Della Jane’s Heart” is the first installment, however on 2019’s Old News album, we hear Anna Lee’s side of the story in “Anna Lee,” and then the next track is an instrumental titled, “Red River (The Fall Of Jimmy Sutherland).”
And finally, on their 2021 album, we get even more follow up with “You Never Came Home” and what seems to be a song from Jimmy’s point of view, “You’re Cold.”
The Steel Woods are a staple to many of my playlists, and you will often find these songs sprinkled into the mix.