Chris Stapleton Speaks Out About New Song Addressing Route 91 Las Vegas Shooting

by Jennifer Shea

In a new interview with Vulture, Chris Stapleton opens up about his song “Watch You Burn” and the aftermath of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas. 

It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The shooter began raining bullets down into a crowd of country music concertgoers just after 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2017. He killed 59 people and injured hundreds more before shooting himself.

A Jason Aldean performance ended in tragedy. Aldean later said it was “the worst night of our lives and not a day goes by that we don’t think about the people who lost their lives.”

Stapleton on the Afterlife

The massacre prompted lawsuits involving more than 4,000 plaintiffs, according to Fox News. MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, where the shooter stayed for free, had to pay a total of $800 million in damages. 

“The song ‘Watch You Burn’ addressing the Route 91 shooter is going to spark conversation,” Vulture’s Craig Jenkins said to Stapleton. “Am I wrong to think that that incident has been kind of a tipping point as far as mainstream country stars being able to speak about politics in a way that they maybe didn’t do so openly before?”

The lyrics to the song feature a fierce prayer for justice in the afterlife. “If I could snap my fingers, if I could flip a switch/I’d make that last bullet first, you son of a b—-,” Stapleton sings.

It’s Not About Politics

But Stapleton demurred, saying the song is not about politics.

“Well, I don’t know that [‘Watch You Burn’] is political as much as it is reactionary,” he responded. “That’s a very direct song about good and evil shit, to me. It’s kind of like, ‘What the hell, man?’ I see it as a feeling and an expression of anger at the existence of senseless tragedy.” 

“I hope, I hope we did the scenario justice,” he added. And “I struggled with putting that song on the record because of the question you just asked. I didn’t want it to be viewed as political. I wanted it to be viewed or heard maybe as therapeutic.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation never did establish a motive for the shooter’s actions. They concluded that he simply wanted infamy and mass destruction, the Associated Press reported.