Maren Morris: Grammy Winner on Songwriting and Touring

MC: When you write, do you sometimes try to put yourself in the headspace of other people or characters, or do you try to focus only on your own personal experiences?
Morris: Writing the album, I was definitely in the headspace of it being only my perspective. I wasn’t thinking about a collective mindset. And that’s why I was the first to be surprised that people were gravitating toward my album. My stamp of approval is “Do I like it?”; not, “Will my mom get it or my boyfriend [fellow country artist Ryan Hurd] like it?” It’s an honest account of my feelings.

MC: What do you have in mind for the next album?
Morris: I get the most inspiration when I have time to reflect on experiences; I don’t have a ton of experiences that pop into my head after a show. It’s after I see someone else play a show that the wheels get in motion. I see something in myself in their performance.

MC: What was the last show where that happened to you?
Morris: When I was on the Cayamo Cruise with Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin. I was watching Patty Griffin perform and then saw my friends the Love Junkies [Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose], who have won back-to-back Grammys. I’d seen them before, but I wrote so many things down because it was like going through a master class in songwriting.

MC: How are you keeping your head straight, with all the success you’ve had?
Morris: I don’t have “yes” people around me. It’s so nice to have people around me who are proud but who can rib me and keep me humbled and sane. My family and boyfriend want to genuinely see me succeed, but keep me rooted in reality.

Also, I try to get more sleep than the average person—I require nine or 10 hours. I can sleep till 5 p.m. When I haven’t slept in days, I’m not the same person. Even if I haven’t had a full night’s sleep, I get irritable, and my voice gets affected.

Maren Morris quick facts

MC: Do you meditate?
Morris: I’ve tried, but I don’t have the patience.

MC: What about reading?
Morris: Yes, I read. I’m at the end of all the Game of Thrones books right now. I actually watched the show first. I’m also reading a series of books by Elena Ferrante [The “Neapolitan Novels”], including My Brilliant Friend.

MC: Would you want to do a cameo as a Wildling or another character on Game of Thrones?
Morris: [Laughs.] No, I’m fine with just being a fan. But I’m curious to see what Ed Sheeran does. [The singer-songwriter is set to appear in the show’s next season.]

MC: You mentioned that you already have some concepts and titles in mind for the next album?
Morris: Right now the titles are so ridiculous, I wouldn’t want to share them. I have five months and don’t really have any structure or plans. A lot of it is not rushing yourself and allowing your mind and heart to connect and write something of value to you.

MC: Do you remember the very first song you wrote?
Morris: I was 12. I couldn’t tell you what the title of it was. I had been writing short stories and poems since I was really little. I loved English and creative writing, and after playing a couple of chords on guitar I realized that it wasn’t so hard. I felt a sense of pride that I could play the song for my parents downstairs. The bug bit me then that I had to become a musician, and I moved to Nashville eight years later. I remember the feeling I had when I finished writing the song. It was a psychotic urge: If I don’t keep writing, I’m going to go crazy. I was such a shy kid, it was my way of sharing who I was with the world.

Photo by John Shearer

For more information on Maren Morris, visit marenmorris.com.

 

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