After the release of her EP The Bridge, through the lyrics, Maren Morris made it seem like she was ready to depart country music. Even through her interview with the Los Angeles Times, her answers pointed to her departure from the industry.
After declaring that she’s “said all she can say,” she said:
“I don’t want to say goodbye, but I really cannot participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore. I couldn’t do this sort of circus anymore, feeling like I had to absorb or explain people’s bad behavior. And you know, laugh it off.”
She also added that she would like to burn country music down and start over:
“I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over. But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
That was… until she made a TV appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where Morris walked back on the idea that she was departing the genre by saying:
“I don’t think it’s something you can really leave because it’s a music that’s in me, and that’s what I grew up doing. That’s the music I write. Even if I’ve been sort of genre-fluid my whole career, you can’t like, scrub the country music out.”
She even double-downed on Watch What Happens Live, saying that the headlines of her “leaving country music” were all clickbait, and since the words of her leaving country music never left her mouth, it wasn’t true. While I think many fans feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster of her slandering the genre yet still saying she wants to participate, the commentary gets even MORE confusing based on some more recent comments.
In a recent interview with Variety, Maren Morris discusses further her love/hate relationship with the country music industry. As Morris has achieved great radio success through country music, many people have ad questioned what spurred the change of heart.
“I don’t think of myself as this badass or anything; I just got so sick of being a yes person to get ahead. I’ve been successful, but — I think — at a moral cost. I couldn’t keep doing the same song and dance.”
Maren the Martyr…
She also adds that just being a woman in country music is “radical,” as if there isn’t a long line of very successful women int he genre. Speaking of the Highwomen, her band alongside Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby, she says:
“I still look up to them, as well as women of country music, because just existing there is radical in itself. There are consequences any time you raise your hand and, even innocently, ask a question — or just wonder aloud if there’s a better way.”
Much of her criticism comes from deeming herself as the unofficial spokesperson for the genre, leading her to get into many feuds with other country music artists (cough: Jason and Brittany Aldean). Morris noted that seeing The Chicks get canceled sparked her interest in speaking out about what she felt needed to be addressed.
While all of this back and forth on what the future of Maren Morris looks like in country music, she ends the interview on a high saying that she loves Nashville.
“I’m not getting out of Dodge. I love living in Nashville, and I don’t consider myself an expat of country music. There are so many amazing people here making music that matters. I’m a piece of this town, and I want to make it better in the same ways I want the music industry to be better.”
Although the dialog has been more than confusing until this point, one thing seems inevitable: Morris will not stop making music, but the genre will remain semi-undefined.
Of course, for someone like Maren, going into the pop world or even this undefined genre of music only works when you’re an artist that can transcend that conversation. Artists like Zach Bryan, Koe Wetzel, and Whiskey Myers have achieved a ton of success blurring the lines between genre and fanbase, living in this “country music” world but making music that probably falls more into the rock word. They attract country fans, they attract rock fans, but more importantly, they don’t rely radio AT ALL. Maren’s biggest songs have been crossover hits and or collabs.
So for Maren, rather than finding herself transcending the genres, she might just wind up homeless.