There’s a reason why artists like Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Sunny Sweeney are among the most respected singer-songwriters in country music—it’s because they are among the most authentic and honest of either gender. And you can add Maren Morris to that list.
In an open letter on LennyLetter, Maren got real with readers, telling them that the past year has been the “most exhilarating and surprising” of her life. She writes, “My debut album went No. 1, I won my first Country Music Award, I played SNL, and I won a Grammy (OK, I’ll stop sounding like a braggy douche now), all while being in a landscape where the girls in my format were referred to as ‘the tomatoes of a salad,’ meaning just an ‘accessory’ and ‘don’t overdo it by playing too many of them at your station.’ In 2017. Hard to believe, right?”
She continues, “The frustration I’ve had with the perspective of women in country music (who, until recently, were severely lacking in numbers) is that you either have to sing about being scorned by a lover or sing about thinking a boy is cute and wanting him to notice you. That’s about as edgy as you can get. On top having to make songs that are down the middle and noncontroversial, there are the aesthetic pressures for a woman to be pretty and sexy but not sexual or have desires beyond winning a guy’s affections.”
Obviously, Maren took that perception of women in country with a grain of salt and even as a new artist in the format, she’s brushed it off, choosing instead to be honest with who she is and who her listeners are. “I write about sex and the self-inflicting pain of being the asshole at the end of a long relationship, being young and drunk with your girlfriends, or just having a meaningless but fun (and sometimes necessary) fling,” she writes. “Things that don’t always make me look like a puritan saint, but they’re unflinchingly honest, and I couldn’t write it down on paper or sing it unless I went through it personally.”
Maren says she is about to start writing for her sophomore album, and she will again tap into her own life and experiences to deliver “the purest reflection” of herself.
And while the debate continues, as it has for decades, about the definition of country music, the diminutive firecracker sums it up pretty succinctly: “A banjo or fiddle doesn’t make a country song, it’s the core-cutting truth that does, and I intend to explore it one day or beer at a time.”
Take us to church, Maren.