Ever hear a new song and stop what you are doing immediately to Google the lyrics trying to figure out what it’s called and who it’s by? For me ‘The Way I Talk’ by Morgan Wallen was one of those. The song is a celebration of his accent and really serves as the perfect introduction to the country world. I was excited to be able to spend some time with Morgan recently to learn more about his story.
Growing up music was never really the plan for Morgan “I kinda loved sports and music my whole life. I actually learned to play violin but by the time I was 7 or 8 I started taking baseball more serious and realized it wasn’t that cool for me to be playing the violin. No one else was doing it on the ball team so I quit doing that, unfortunately. But when I was 11 or 12 I started playing on travel teams and going all around the southeast mostly playing 100s of games a year for baseball.” Wallen was good enough to get college offers but unfortunately after some injuries before his senior year those disappeared. Unsure what to do he turned back to music. “I went through a time period where I didn’t really know what I was gonna do. Once I kinda went through that I just picked up the guitar and started writing songs. I always kinda loved poetry, so I just started writing songs and putting the words I had to chords. Mostly just singing around my family and mom always told me how good she thought I was, like any good mom should. I believed her and started playing around my friends and I realized people were enjoying it as much as I was so I started taking it more and more serious. I had always sang in church and stuff, on the praise team and all that kinda stuff but I never really knew how to take music seriously and I didn’t really know if I could. I was asking God if it was something I should even consider pursuing.”
He found his answer when his mom signed him up for The Voice where he was chosen to be a member of Team Usher before being stolen by Adam to be a part of his team. Though he didn’t end up winning he says it was confirmation he was on the right path. “I never expected it to be the pinnacle of what I was doing or the end game, I just felt like it was a start for me and a way for me to learn because I had never had my own thing to, I had never played my own concert or anything. It was kind of a jump start to my career is the way I always look at it.” I would say that a jump start is a bit of a down play for what happened next. “After The Voice I ended up getting some managers and those managers got me a booking agent. My booking agent is also the same guy who booked Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. He told me to move to Nashville so I moved there as soon as I could get the chance and I moved there in July of 2015 and me and small team of people at that time started shooting the demos that I had at the time to anyone who would listen and trying to get cowrites and all that kinda thing.”
Some of his demos made it to Big Loud Records, home of another former baseball player turned country artist, Chris Lane. They had Morgan come in twice, once for the owners and then again for the whole staff after which they offered him a deal. Morgan says was a fit from the get go. “We kinda just hit it off and I feel like they believed in what I was doing and I really respected and like them as people. They obviously have a good resume with what they’re doing. I didn’t go anywhere else and I just started with them.”
Morgan put out his first single ‘The Way I Talk’ late last year. “I had always felt strongly about ‘The Way I Talk’ because I wanted a song that introduced me. I felt like I had a lot of good songs, but I wanted my first song to be one that introduced me to the world. That was song that kinda was like hey here I am. Kinda in a ‘don’t give a damn’’ way almost but not in one that thinks we’re too cool for school or anything. Just in a way that’s proud of who you are.“ After visiting country radio stations all over the U.S. his decision was reaffirmed… “we played them three acoustic songs and wanted to see which song kept raising its hand as far as first single goes and for the majority of those visits ‘The Way I Talk’ was the one that kept raising its hand and that just reaffirmed what we had already hoped for.”
While ‘The Way I Talk’ is the lead single, it is far from the only quality song on his EP. Morgan shows his creativity and writing abilities on a song called ‘Whiskey Glasses’ which as about what he calls a “stronger prescription” of beer goggles. Another one that caught our ear was the funky ‘Stand Out.’ Morgan says he started with the title and the concept of, as he explains it, “no matter where you are in the world and how beautiful things are around you the chick beside you is somehow better than that.” Going into a writing session one day he was in a “funky” mood. He went into the session with Chris Stevens, Tim Nichols and Jimmy Yeary and told them he “wanted to have almost like a Motown thing.” From there the song almost wrote itself- “There’s days where you try hard all day long and you get a verse and chorus and that’s it. Then there’s days where you write a song in 2-3 hours. That was one of those days where it all flowed out. I was really pleased with how it turned out.”
Wallen is poised to have a big year. He’s been playing shows with label mate Chris Lane and come April will be out on the road with Florida Georgia Line. “I’m looking forward to a busy year. I’m still writing quite a bit. Hopefully you’ll hear a couple of my songs out on the radio that I’ve written for other artists soon too. I can’t tell you who yet but that’s gonna happen this year. I’m excited about a lot of things this year.”
He’s also got to be excited for the Patriots recent championship win. Though he considers home to be Knoxville, TN, the heart of Peyton Manning territory, Wallen is a defender of TB12. “Man I get crucified for this, everyone wants me to think that Peyton Manning is the best. I always tell em Tom Brady is!” He also is a big Red Sox fan!
Morgan says he’s looking forward to announcing more tour dates and we’re hoping he’ll add some up here in New England. in the meantime, you can buy his EP on iTunes and keep up with him on his website and socials (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).