Jelly Roll's new single "Halfway to Hell" is autobiographical and then some.

The "Halfway to Hell" lyrics include several nods to his personal life, and the song's place as album-opener points to where Whitsitt Chapel is headed.

The album version of the track also features at least two artist shoutouts and one voice you may not recognize.

  • "Halfway to Hell" is the third single from Whitsitt Chapel, Jelly Roll's debut album on BBR Music Group.
  • He wrote the song Jesse Frasure, Matt Jenkins and Jessie Jo Dillon.
  • Zach Crowell co-produced the song, which is important because ...

Related: Jelly Roll, Whitsitt Chapel — 13 songs, 22 Easter Eggs

Who Is the Preacher on Jelly Roll's "Halfway to Hell"?

The first voice you hear on the album is not Jelly Roll. Jarrod Brown is the fiery preacher that you hear opening "Halfway to Hell," and he repeats the role across several songs, including "Hungover in a Church Pew" at the end.

On social media, Brown explained that Crowell is a friend of his, and initially he cringed when researching Jelly Roll. The songs brought tears to his eyes, however, so he agreed to play the part.

In real life, he does preach sermons, but not in the same way as one hears here. That "old school" style was just for the album.

Songs and Artists Name-Checked in "Halfway to Hell":

The pre-chorus is where one finds two artists/songs called out with emphasis: Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "This Little Light of Mine" and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried."

In other places, Jelly Roll seems to possibly be referring to music icons. For example, "I'm a rolling stone disciple" may refer to the rock band. "Halfway to Heaven" was an album from Jelly Roll's friend Brantley Gilbert, although it's likely a coincidence here.

"Hope the chariot gonna swing low" is surely a reference to the hymnal "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

Jelly Roll, "Halfway to Heaven" — Is It True?

The first verse of "Halfway to Hell" is all true.

"I'm a count jail revival" refers to Jelly Roll's time in Davidson County jail.

"I'm a bottle and a Bible" refers to his hard partying days and spirituality. In prison, Jelly Roll says he read both the Bible and Koran.

"I'm a rolling stone disciple / With a cross across my face" is no exaggeration, as you can see here:

Picture of singer Jelly Roll, showing his cross tattoo
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Here Are Jelly Roll's "Halfway to Hell" Lyrics:

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 gonna swing low / And carry me away.

This little light of mine / Damn near burned me alive / Lord knows that Mama tried / And I don't know if I'm …

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.

I'm a dive bar Sunday sermon / Holy water with my bourbon / Standin' on a bridge I'm burning / With a can of gasoline / Am I worth savin' if I'm always fadin' / It feels like I'm caught in-between.

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Pre-Chorus

Repeat Chorus

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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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