photo's by Ray Tharaldson
all rights reserved 2011
story by Vernell Hackett
Craig Morgan prefers to say his debut album came out ten years ago, not a "decade."
"It sounds better -- doesn't sound as long, does it?" laughs the singer, who looks about a decade younger than his 47 years. He seems genuinely surprised that his career has been around for that amount of time, despite the fact that he's releasing his sixth career album, 'This Ole Boy,' today (Feb. 28) on his new label, Black River Entertainment.
"I'm not where I thought I'd be!" Craig says with more laughter, explaining, "I thought I'd try country music for a couple years and then I'd end up back in the Army. We've surpassed any and everything that I've ever expected. I'm a member of the Grand Ole Opry. We've had 14 Top 10 hits. A lot of guys that have been in country music as long as I have aren't in it anymore. So, I'm extremely grateful that we're still working a lot and we're still here."
The Tennessee native is looking forward to fans hearing the new album, with its title track already getting great response. "We're still very vital to this industry, and we still have a lot to bring," says Craig. "It's hard to do that, unless you reach a certain level by a certain point in your career. A lot of the industry kinda writes you off. For some reason, the industry still lets me be here, and we're still doing a whole lot."
He points to his television show, 'Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors,' which is in its second on the Outdoor Channel, as well as the potential for him jumping into the acting arena, as some of the new career opportunities that have been afforded him.
"We still have a whole lot to accomplish," he concedes. "I would expect that this first week's sales on this album will be my biggest first week's sales ever, and that's saying a lot because I've been on Atlantic, Sony and Broken Bow [Records], where we'd accomplished a lot. I have a lot of that same feeling that we had at Broken Bow early on – I have that here (with Black River Records). But the feelings that I had then, and that I have now, I will experience those feelings with this label for a long time. I don't think I'll see the changes with these guys that I'd seen there. It's exciting. It's a wonderful place to be."
His first album in nearly three years, 'This Ole Boy' was co-produced by Craig and longtime writing partner Phil O'Donnell. Craig is a co-writer on seven of the project's 12 tracks.
Craig Morgan Explains New Album, Track By Track
"It's funny, there are a lot of people out there who don't necessarily consider themselves country music fans, but they sure talk about all the stuff I'm singing about on this record," Morgan notes. So, whether you're a country fan or not--sit back, put on the album, and enjoy reading Morgan's track-by-track take on living life!
"This Ole Boy"
I called [the writer of the song] and told him, I'm cutting this song, and I'm confident it'll be a single. So we cut it, and here we are. Just one of those songs that talks about the kind of people that we are--and the kind of people who listen to country music, I believe, are those same people.
That was an easy song to write. Kind of about where we're from. Where I live, you always see a whole lot more trucks than you do cars. And here again, it's just talking about the kind of people that we are.
The cool thing about this song--what I love about this song--is where I threw in a bit of a tribute to the military without making it the major source of content. Having been in the military, I never wanted anyone to think that I was taking advantage of my service, so I always try to steer clear of that sort of material to a degree. And this was a song that I thought we got to pay tribute and talk about it, without it being the focal point.
"The Whole World Needs A Kitchen"
Just a song that talks about...a political perspective, in a non-political way. You know, there's a lot going on in the world, and it's one of those songs that talks about the reason we're having so many problems is because we don't gather as a family anymore.
In my house, the kitchen was the place where everybody gathered--still does to this day. As a kid, I remember growing up, I used to sit on the bottom stair, it came right outside the kitchen, and my mom would cut my hair there. There's something special about walking through the house, or into the house and through the kitchen...the smell of supper cooking on the stove. These are things that verbally we created such images that you don't even have to close your eyes to see it. It's just a wonderful song talking about how the world is a better place when you have a good kitchen.
"Country Boys Like Me"
Here again, another song that I felt was real strong, talking about who I am and how I feel and what I believe. One line in particular, when I played it for the label, they were like ehhhh....I don't know. It says "black kids bleed red just like me." Everyone was like ahhh...I don't know. But I was like, "Why not? That's the real deal. That's what it's about. That's life." And that's what we're supposed to sing about. And now that we've cut it, everybody's over-the-top excited that we did.
"Show Me Your Tattoo"
There was one reason and one reason only behind that song. So that we could see things on the road touring (laughs). I'm kind of kidding; kind of serious. I just thought it was a funny song.
"Love Loves A Long Night"
One of my favorite songs on this project. I've always wanted to have a sexy song, but I've never really found one or wrote one that I felt was workable on the album or "Craig Morgan-like." We wrote this, and as soon as we finished writing it, I knew that it was something I was never gonna pitch--that I absolutely had to cut it myself. And I'm so glad, because in my opinion, it's one of my strongest songs vocally on the project. I get to show off my vocals in ways that I've tried to do in the past.
"Being Alive And Living"
Completely autobiographical. It was easy to write, because I'm not the kind of guy that just sits back and watches motorcycles race around the track--everyone knows I race dirt bikes. I talk about jumping out of planes, I can't just watch it happen, I gotta do it. I have a bucket list. When I go to heaven, my bucket list will be empty, I hope! (Ed's Note: When asked what was on his bucket list, Morgan said he'd like to climb Mt. Everest.)
"Fish Weren't Biting"
I love how throughout the entire song, you think that the ol' boy is talking about one thing, when in fact he's referring to the very thing you think about but in a different way! So just absolutely love it. They payoff on that song for me was really huge.
Another autobiographical song, but I didn't write this one. Everybody who knows me knows I run at about 90 miles an hour, and I love my life, and I'm not scared to take a chance or two. So, I do have a lot of scars, but at the end of the day when we're sitting around and those guys that have been extremely careful their whole life and haven't really lived, they won't have near as good of stories as I will!
"I Didn't Drink"
Heartfelt song. I tried to imagine what it would be like if I didn't have my wife around. I'm not a big drinker--I don't drink much liquor or beer at all, I'm a wine drinker...glass or two at home. But I can imagine what it would be like if I lost someone who was close to me like that. I would go into a place...and I wouldn't know what to drink, but I'd want them to give me something. It's probably the deepest song on the record.
It's a fun song. I'm not trying to change anybody's lives, I just want people to laugh--and appreciate that country girls are stars in their own way!
Just a fun, simple, easy listening, sittin' on the creek bank kind of song. And that's what that's all about. A lot of that came from real-life experiences.
Related links: craigmorgan.com/