Rock Salt and Nails is a bitter love song that was written by Utah Phillips for his friend Rosalie Sorrels in 1961. It is a folk classic that has been covered by many country and folk musicians, including Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan & The Band, Willie Watson, and Steve Young. The most recent version of this song is by Tyler Childers, and it truly puts the venom into his lyrics as he fantasizes about loading up his shotgun with rock salt and nails.
The lyrics start with the singer remembering a time he was with his past lover, down by the riverside with drooping willow trees. He recalls that the weather was pleasant and he was talking sweet nothings to her, but then he begins to realize how she had lied to him. This causes him to begin to feel bitter, and in the next verse he imagines hunting these women like blackbirds or thrushes. But instead of killing them, he prefers to blast them with his shotgun loaded with rock salt and nails.
This creative metaphor is a great way to show the bitterness and anger that the singer is feeling in this song. It is a more humane form of revenge than simply shooting them or killing them with a gun or knife. This is one of the reasons that this song has stood the test of time for so long. Chimesfreedom recently wrote about the beautiful debut album of Kentucky native Tyler Childers, called Purgatory, and he has a powerful voice that is perfect for this style of music.