I knew that Maren Morris had a backstory; that she’d started writing poems before she was even a teenager, and that those poems turned into songs once she got a guitar.
What I didn’t know is that Morris looks back fondly at those first attempts at writing. And while that appreciation for her early works didn’t happen overnight, it did happen. So that now, as a very well established singer and songwriter, Morris can see that foundation was just the beginning.
“I used to look back and think, ‘Oh my God. How did I write this down? How did I think this was good?’ But now I’m less critical, maybe because I’m less critical of myself in general,” Morris told me after her ACM Awards rehearsal.
“Now I’m impressed with what I wrote back then. It wasn’t too bad. I was on a roll,” she said, “and I was getting started. It’s just from your heart and untainted. Everyone has to start somewhere.”
Not quite two years after her debut album Hero was released, and four hits deep into it, Morris admits that her songwriting these days is much more confident.
“Every year as you get older, you start to settle into yourself even more. Then there’s fame, and then you’re starting to have your face and your name out there. But you still have to be humble and down to earth, and not getting wrapped up in what others think about you.
“I think my writing has reflected that, by really staying true to what I do and not letting any sort of success alter what made ‘My Church’ so special in the beginning,” she said.
After all the critical acclaim and high praise heaped upon Morris from the day everyone found holy redemption on country radio with “My Church,” it was kind of the same story with “80s Mercedes,” “I Could Use a Love Song” and “Rich.”
Wherever her songwriting takes her next, she said she’s proceeding with caution.
“What’s hard about the second record is that you want to move the sound forward, but not depart too drastically from the first record. Because the first one is what people fell in love with, so if you abandon that completely and are too much of a chameleon, then you lose those people who loved your early stuff. We have to strike that balance.”
An all-new CMT Hot 20 Countdown, airing Saturday and Sunday (April 21-22) at 9 a.m. ET, will have more on all the action from the ACMs in Las Vegas.