Maren Morris returned "to the scene of the crime," in her own words, to celebrate her first No. 1 single on country radio. Morris gathered with friends and industry at The Crying Wolf, a small bar in East Nashville, for the uniquely Nashville occasion.
"Being back at The Crying Wolf is hysterical," Morris says. "Because I shot my album cover here. I did my release party here." So it only made sense to come back and celebrate her first No. 1 single on country radio, "I Could Use A Love Song."
Along with co-writers Jimmy Robbins and Laura Veltz, Morris spent some time in a corner booth talking with press before the main event. "I Could Use A Love Song" was one of the last songs added to Morris' debut album Hero. The heartbroken, if not hopeful, ballad now seems opposite ends of the spectrum for Morris' personal life.
"It kind of shows how much time passed in my life since we wrote the song," Morris says. "I think the song made my dream come true. I'm a lot happier person I think in that area of my life now. I never thought this song would be my first [No. 1 single], but I'm so glad that it is."
Morris is marrying fellow singer Ryan Hurd in a few short weeks.
A #MeToo Moment
"I don't think I viewed it that way when I put the album out," Morris says (Hero released about a year and a half before the movement gained traction). "But it's sort of cyclical. I was just trying to be myself. And being myself, as much trouble as it gets me into sometimes, inspired an open conversation about being honest."
Morris notes that it's not easy "in this day and age, with country radio, and with the landscape of country itself, to be a woman and to be honest." Specifically when it comes to writing songs that aren't always fawning over a guy or playing into gender stereotypes.
On Being Honest
Maren Morris obviously resonates with a wide swath of the music landscape thanks to her phenomenal voice and clever writing. But she also won over younger fans and fans from other genres by presenting a genuine portrayal of herself and not censoring her thoughts.
"I've loved growing up in the spotlight in the last few years," Morris says. "But the biggest obstacle is being misinterpreted when I'm just being myself. And hopefully giving guys and girls some inspiration that they don't have to change or water themselves down to be an artist."
And despite winning Grammy and CMA awards, it took country radio a really long time to catch on to Morris undeniable sound. That might be in part to Morris being an outspoken woman, but she's not sweating it.
"The radio is its own world," she says. "But I don't think watering yourself down ends up gaining you any more fans. I deal with it every time I say something more outspoken. You lose 1,000 followers, but the ones that stick with you are really in it with you for good."
She uses the veiled, cliche threat that some fans and industry like to throw around: "You might want to cool it or you'll end up like the Dixie Chicks." Morris has a pretty airtight response to that, though.
"I just saw them in concert, and they were as badass now as they were back then," she says. "There are worse ways to end up. I'm just not threatened by that being thrown at me anymore."
Maren Morris also addressed plenty of exciting career developments, from her collaborations with Niall Horan and Zedd to her future music. "Those are like, really amazing side hustles," Morris says.
But when it comes to her own music, Morris is being deliberate with the next chapter of her career. "When it's your own album, and a piece of your own story, I don't want to stray too far from where I started, because that's me," she says. "It's fun to put on these other hats with other people."
That doesn't, however, mean you can expect all of her next album to sound like her Zedd or Niall Horan feature. "I don't want to stray too far from my roots with my sophomore album," she says. "All of the lyrics of my songs are very country structured, but I like to sing any style of songs."
But before the new album comes out, listen for her single "Rich" on radio, and stay tuned for a western-themed music video in the coming weeks.