Hell’s Comin’ With Me, A Message for the Oppressed

A story of class consciousness and against the heel of religious manipulation.

Cover for the Single Hells Comin WIth Me

Cover for the Single “Hell’s Comin’ WIth Me”

A mesh of bluegrass folk music and rock and a critique against the church, Poor Man’s Poison crafts a passionate and powerful story against corruption and manipulation, with inspiring vocals and a mystical background chorus you can’t help but feel righteous in Hell’s Comin’ With Me.

Poor Man’s Poison first came together with the members, Hakker, bassist Dustin Medeiros, guitarist Mike Jacobs, and Tommy McCarthy in 2009 and created three albums, and even performed for U.S. armed forces in Cuba, eventually going on hiatus in 2014 due to their personal lives. Though each album did well enough to merit performances, it wasn’t until they got back together in 2019 and released their first viral hit and the subject of this article, Hell’s Comin’ With Me

Hell’s Comin’ With Me is like no other in its message and powerful delivery. The song enters with a foreboding and ominous mandolin, guitar, and violin, as Ryan Hyker’s voice begins the story of a man exiled, beaten, and humiliated by his town promising to bring hell to it when he returns. The instruments fade out before a burst of energy comes from the instruments. An eccentric energy typical of folk music begins. The narrative then shifts to how the town that exiled the drifter is under the grasp of a “black magic preacher,” who warns the town’s people against leaving before giving an ominous warning that it’s best to obey his word. The instrumentals remain fast-paced in their rhythms but the mandolin’s pitch reflects the ominous tone of the vocals. 

The next verse takes a very on-the-nose approach to the message of the song, as the vocalist seemingly shifts from a third-person narration to a first-person insight of the exiled man’s thoughts on the preacher stating “You line your pockets full of money that you steal from the poor.” The music and background vocals swell with a righteous tone with strumming typical of guitars with the mandolin and cello as he sings this. Ironic – as the lyrics denounce a typically righteous figure becoming even more ironic as the lyrics then state “I’d pay the devil twice as much to keep your soul,” subverting typical folk music warning against dealing with the devil and emphasizing the evil of the priest.

The next verse then tells of the exiled man returning to the valley he was banished from during which the background vocals ominously hum as the man intends to burn the town with a gun holstered on his hip. Once the verse ends the audience is left hooked: will the preacher be brought to justice? What is to come for the townspeople?  The most iconic piece of the song is yet to come.

Only the mandolin lightly strums as the lyrics then describe the town engulfed in fire and smoke and the preacher hanging by his neck on the gallows. In fear, the townspeople beg on their knees to the exiled and as the man speaks every instrument swells before he loudly declares “I am the righteous hand of God, I am the devil that you forgot.” only the mandolin and vocals loudly emphasize every syllable. All the instruments are reinvigorated with rock-style energy as the lyrics fully shift to the stranger condemning the preacher and his followers to hell fulfilling his promise as the righteous hand of god.

Ryan Hakker Singing the Previously Mentioned Lines

The message of Poor Man’s Poison is clear to see. A story about how true righteousness comes from being your own individual and revolting against the powers that be perfectly illustrated through a subversive message style of music. Unless you’re an 1800s prude or happen to host a talk show on the Daily Wire, the themes are at the very least compelling and if not deeply resonating with those unfortunate enough to have a relatable experience to the exiled man. Divine power comes not from others who threaten to hurt you for being an individual, but through your own righteous spirit.