Maren Morris Is Done with Country: "It's to Own the Libs and That's So Not What Music Is Intended For"

The singer-songwriter has announced her departure from the genre amid its sociopolitical reckoning with new EP 'The Bridge'

Photo: Morgan Foitle

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Sep 15, 2023

It's been a long, hot summer of country music with questionable messaging — and/or made by people who questionably find racial slurs to be "playful" — ruling the charts, and Maren Morris has had it.

"People are streaming these songs out of spite," the singer-songwriter told the Los Angeles Times when Jason Aldean's controversial "Try That in a Small Town" was brought up in conversation. "It's not out of true joy or love of the music. It's to own the libs. And that's so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it's being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars."

Consequently, Morris has announced her departure from country music with the release of an EP called The Bridge, featuring two new songs: "The Tree" and "Get the Hell Out of Here."

"These two songs are incredibly key to my next step because they express a very righteously angry and liberating phase of my life these last couple of years, but also how my navigation is finally pointing towards the future, whatever that may be or sound like," she said in a statement. "Honouring where I've been and what I've achieved in country music, but also freely moving forward."

The rootsy (pun fully intended) "The Tree" sees Morris point to the rot in the genre's growing sense of sociopolitical divide, singing, "I've hung around longer than anyone should / You've broken my heart more than anyone could." Meanwhile, on the tellingly titled "Get the Hell Out of Here," produced by Jack Antonoff, she admits, "I don't know what I'm doing / Don't know what I'm trying to find / My only resolution is that I'm allowed to change my mind."

While Morris says that she's always felt like she was under a microscope as one of the few women who have had considerable success at the notorious boys' club that is country radio (for what it's worth, she's also had notable crossover accomplishments, especially her 2018 Zedd collaboration "The Middle"), things have grown increasingly inhospitable since 2016.

"After the Trump years, people's biases were on full display," the musician told journalist Mikael Wood. "It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music."

Of the state of the genre, Morris added, "I thought I'd like to burn it to the ground and start over. But it's burning itself down without my help."


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