The Song Remembers When: Jelly Roll – “Son Of A Sinner”

We take you behind the scenes and explore the making of one of our favorite tunes with The Song Remembers When…

Song: “Son Of A Sinner”
Songwriters: Jason DeFord, Ernest Keith Smith, and David Ray Stevens
Album: Ballads of the Broken

In 2023, we watched rapper-turned-country artist Jelly Roll score three number ones. It all started back in January with his song “Son Of A Sinner.”

Jelly, whose real name is Jason DeFord, rented a studio in Nashville where he was doing a late-night songwriting session with buddy David Ray Stevens. Ernest, a long-time friend of both, stopped by to say hello. While he was there, Ernest picked up a guitar and started messing around, coming up with some lyrics and some chord changes. He told Jelly he wasn’t sure where it came from.

After Ernest split, Jelly went to work on the verses. He sang about his vices and his pain, all of which was very autobiographical. It was 3:30 in the morning when the song was done, and he wanted to record it. When he laid it down, he felt it was one of his more emotional performances and that this song was something special.

“Son Of A Sinner” started at rock radio and, eventually, country radio started playing it during Spring 2022. By the following January, Jelly would have his first number one in country music.

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