Back in 2002, Craig Morgan released the first single off his second album, I Love It. It was called "God, Family and Country." Fast forward 18 years, and Morgan is going back to those three things that matter most to him. And he's named an album after that song. God, Family, Country is due out on Friday (May 22).
The album has a new batch of five songs that holds up well right next to five remasters of his older songs.
One of the first new ones Morgan already released late last year was his heartbreaking tribute to his late son Jerry, “The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost." It's a song so moving, that once Morgan's friend Blake Shelton heard it, he was all about it. Morgan told CMT.com that that's the Shelton he knows, but it's a side of him his fans may not know well.
"People don't know how good Blake's heart really is. I do. And I've always known that. So it was humbling when Blake did all this, and it was good to know that a lot of the world could see the Blake that I've known for a long time," Morgan said of Shelton's social media campaign to get the spiritual song up the charts. "He's kind of like that country music cheerleader, and people may not know that side of him. And with a platform like he has, I just thought that was the greatest thing ever.
"As a lover of country music, you've got to share the good stuff. Blake could've been like, 'Oh cool. Craig has this beautiful song out. That's cool for him.' Instead, he was insistent that we all listen to it."
Here is everything else Morgan told us about making this new album, almost exactly four years after releasing his last studio album.
On balancing the ups and downs of life on the album: "I'm not the only one. I'm not the only guy that lost a child. I'm not the only guy that had been in combat. There are lot of people out there. And if they haven't done that, they know someone who has. So the songs that I write and record are not just relatable to me. And I mean, the reality is I don't make records for myself. I'm trying to write songs that people out there will want to listen to so that they will come see us in concert at some point. So I tend to keep that in mind. It's easier to write things when you can draw from personal experience. And I'm fortunate and unfortunate that I have had all of those experiences.
On narrowing down his abundant supply of older hits to remaster: "What I'm finding is that there are a lot of people out there that are just now becoming Craig Morgan fans. So they may not be privy to 'That's What I Love About Sunday,' for example. And so there's a new audience that we're able to tap into that has become new country fans. We felt it was important to have those, and to put some of the songs that were never released as singles that I always thought were great songs."
On the 'country' in God, Family, Country: "For me, the 'country' part is both country music and our country. But especially our country, our nation. That, plus God and family. Those are the three things that are most important to me in my life."
On the decision to include a cover of Gavin DeGraw's "Soldier": "I think that the lyrics of that song truly reflect the character of a service member better than any song I've ever heard. Those are the people. And I'm one of those people. I always tell people that we all share a gene -- those of us that serve in the military, law enforcement and all those capacities -- that requires us for to do things like that. We want to help people, not because we want people to pat us on the back. It's just what we need for our own self gratification and motivation. In order to be fulfilled, I need to help other people. And I think every service member, every law enforcement officer, every first responder, every doctor, every nurse -- they all share that same gene. And this song really, really captures the character of those people."
On making sure that all the days of the weekend are covered: "I'll always want to have a Friday night song and I'll always want to have a Sunday morning song. Because that is middle America. We go out on Friday and Saturday nights, and we're in church and doing family things on Sunday. And if you're not doing that, it's what you want to do. It really is. I think it's important to cover the gamut of the lifestyle of the people who are buying my music."
Full track list for Morgan's God, Family, Country:
1. "The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost"
2. "Soldier" (Gavin DeGraw cover)
3. "Going Out Like This"
5. "Sippin’ On The Simple Life"
6. "God, Family and Country" from 2003
7. "That’s What I Love About Sunday" from 2004
8. "My Kind Of Woman" from 2006
9. "Almost Home" from 2002
10. "Lotta Man (In That Little Boy)" from 2005