Maren Morris says she’s leaving country music with some reluctance as she grapples with how the industry she grew up in can not only feel “like indoctrination” but has also evolved following Donald Trump’s presidency.
Morris’ past year has seen her pushing conservative elements of the country music genre, earning her a few headlines amid high-profile clashes. That includes her criticism of singer Jason Aldean and his wife Brittany Kerr, whose stance on gender-affirming care Morris expressed on stage and on social media (which was subsequently covered by former Fox news host Tucker Carlson).
Morris’ latest video for “The Tree” seemingly expands on Aldean’s video for “Try That in a Small Town” — hailed by some as pro-Trump and condemned by others as an anti-black, pro-lynching anthem that promotes gun violence glorified – through her own references to things like sunset cities and conservative refrains like “Go woke, go broke.”
In a new interview with the Los Angeles TimesMorris talks about trying to “step outside the drama of the genre with an evolving sound. While discussing the release of her two-song EP ‘The Bridge’, the singer explains whether that clash with the Aldeans influenced her decision to change her approach to making music. country music universe” and is instead focused on “just making good music.”
“I have always been a questioner and a status quo challenger, simply because I am a woman. So it wasn’t even a choice,” Morris said, discussing composing music outside the country mold. “I didn’t consider myself a political artist. I simply wrote songs about real life through a lens of deep respect for my country heroes. But the further you get into the country music world, the more you start to see the cracks. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it.”
Morris said that if you open your eyes, you will use what little power you have “to make things better,” even if that “doesn’t make you popular.” Concerning the backlash to her efforts The award-winning singer-songwriter supports communities like LGBTQ Americans, adding that she doesn’t buy into the “fear-mongering about getting Dixie Chick-ed and stuff” in the country.
“Country music is a business, but it is sold, especially to young writers and artists coming up within it, almost like a god. It feels a bit like indoctrination. If you really like this kind of music, and you start to see problems arise, then criticism is necessary. Everything that is so popular needs to be scrutinized if we want to see progress,” Morris concluded.
As for what may have actually prompted the change in her relationship with the genre — which Morris said she doesn’t want to have an “adversarial relationship with” — the “Get the Hell Out of Here” singer admitted that there were something has happened in recent years. Trump’s presidency. The result of that era is songs like Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” which Morris said people aren’t even streaming “out of true joy or love of the music” about “the actual oppressed,” but like this one is “really toxic weapon in culture wars” in an effort “to own the libs.”
“After the Trump years, people’s prejudices were on full display. It just revealed who people really were, and that they were proud of being misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and transphobic. All these things were celebrated, and it strangely aligned with this hyper-masculine branch of country music,” she told the station. LA times.
For Morris, her new music is a response to distancing herself from all that. “These songs are clearly the result of that – the aftermath of walking away from something that was really important to you and the betrayal that you very rightly felt,” she said. “I always thought I was going to have to put my middle fingers in the air while jumping out of a plane, but I’m trying to grow up here and realize that I can just walk away from the parts of this that no longer make me happy.”
“I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she added at another point in the interview. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
That planned expansion of her sound may not only create distance from the drama, but also lead to a different kind of performance experience, as Morris describes singing with another artist who started in the country and went beyond — Taylor Swift at the Chicago stop from her Eras Tour – made her feel ‘safe’.
“It’s such a supportive crowd: 90 percent women and 10 percent gays and dads. I have never felt so safe at a live show,” the artist explained. “No one gets hammered in the aisles or pukes or gets into fights or anything. It’s just so joyful.”