Everyone in country music has been praying that the day would come when Craig Morgan was ready to talk about his son Jerry’s death. He has done so with his new song “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost,” and today, Morgan was ready to talk with us about his son, his faith and his music.
Jerry Greer died in July 2016 when he was tubing on Kentucky Lake in Humphreys County, Tennessee, shortly after graduating from Dickson County High School.
CMT.com: Before we talk about the song, let’s talk about Jerry. What was he like?
Craig Morgan: Jerry was just a super stud. Good looking, amazing athlete, all the girls loved him, and all the dudes wanted to be him. And I’m not just saying that because he was my kid. It’s really true. In fact, when Jerry was with me out on the road, people would literally ask him for his autograph. He was a beautiful kid, and he loved people. He had infatuation with the underdog, so he was the kind of guy who was always there for the smaller, lower, lesser person. He always stood up for them no matter what.
And what was your family like when Jerry was around?
We were complete. And now that he’s not physically here, we feel incomplete. But I didn’t lose him. He’s not gone. He’s in heaven. But I can’t call him or text him, and that’s frustrating. When we were all together, he was extremely humorous, always joking and so high energy. Jerry absolutely changed the vibe of the family. And he loved, loved, loved his family.
What did his future look like?
He was starting at Marshall University (in Huntington, West Virginia), and was going to be playing football. But he also had a desire for business. So his future was very bright. I’m confident he would’ve been playing in NFL. He was the superstar, and everything he did he did with energy and attitude.
In 2017, you converted to Catholicism through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville. Do you remember what it was that led you there emotionally?
People assume that it was the loss of Jerry that led me there, but it really wasn’t that. But having lost Jerry, it definitely made the learning process easier. My wife and our two youngest boys had been going, and Jerry was in the process of going, too. He was actually going to be confirmed that next Easter. And because of what my wife shared with me, I started doing my own research, and one thing led to another and I started RCIA myself. I started to realize that we’re all Catholic, some people just don’t know it. You start to learn about the history of Christ and where He came from and how that affects our faith. Studying all of that is time consuming, and then you go through three of the sacraments — Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist — but the truth is, without it you don’t really have the true understanding I have now.
What was it about being a Baptist that was no longer a fit for you?
It was only after the fact that I realized that. It wasn’t until I started studying that I realized some things. Like in the Baptist church, they refer to what I now call the Eucharist as just a representation of the body of Christ. And I’d always felt like there was something more reverent about what was happening. I felt that yearning. Baptists just pass it around, but I felt that it should be something more. Baptists do not believe that it is the true body and blood of Christ or that an actual transformation has taken place. So in a way, Catholicism just enhanced my faith and my comprehension of the bible.
I feel like your new song must’ve come from you truly understanding the Holy Trinity. Is that how it happened? And when did the inspiration for the song strike?
The trinity was always part of my faith, but being a Catholic now, I felt like then it used to lack reverence. And then one night, I was dreaming about it, the song’s chorus actually, and woke up at 3:30 in morning with it in my head. I almost went right back to bed. But then I just knew I needed to get up, go downstairs, get my guitar, and write. Four hours later, I was done. I went upstairs and told my wife, “I wrote this song. But don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sing it.”
Were there other songs you’d started writing about Jerry, but just couldn’t finish?
No. This was the first time I tried to write about Jerry. Christianity has always worked its way into my music — like in “That’s What I Love About Sunday” — but it was never the meat of the song. This song is 100 percent about my faith and confidence in Christ. A dark as it may be, where there’s darkness there is light. This is the first time I’ve done anything that is this Christian based. It’s not for that genre though, it’s just a real-life story about loss and faith. And people everywhere who have loved and lost someone are dealing with their own pain and hurt. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. It’s just the reality for a lot of people, and they lyrics are spot on with how we all are feeling and healing.
The song captures the heartbreak in those everyday moments you continue to face — avoiding friends, healing a little more each day, and the revelation that you’ll be with Jerry again. As the song’s sole songwriter, how were you able to paint such a tragically poignant picture?
It’s beyond me and my hands. I don’t have a lot to do with it. I’m just grateful God has blessed me with the words, and I’m grateful that I got what I got with my son. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.