Maren Morris taking life, success all in stride
“Even years down the road from now, these songs will feel [timeless] to me, because they are just really coming from a place of lightness,” Morris said of her new album.
Maren Morris knew the storm clouds were rolling in.
And as the Grammy-winning superstar watched the weather gods angrily congregate in the sky over Wrigley Field last month, the “Circles Around this Town” hitmaker knew that the impending storms would not only shorten headliner Chris Stapleton’s much-anticipated set, but also the set she had planned out with her fellow Highwomen bandmates Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby and Brandi Carlile.
But really, she didn’t much care.
“I practice being more present now than I ever did,” Morris said during a recent interview. “I do feel like I’m able to really soak in the magic of the everyday. I don’t process anything in the rearview mirror anymore. I live life as it comes. Even the mediocre days feel great because I realize this is better than being stuck at home and not knowing when we are ever going be able to do this again.”
With: Natalie Hemby
When: 8 p.m., August 10
Where: Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, 1300 S. Linn White Drive
Tickets: $25 - $103+
It’s almost as if one can hear the leftover trauma in the Texas native’s delicate voice, as the pandemic brought Morris’ professional life to a screeching halt in 2020. Yet, time has allowed Morris to see the beauty of the frenetic pace that ensued.
“Before that, we were a culture of output, output and more output,” explained Morris, who returns to Chicago Aug. 10 as part of her Humble Quest headlining tour. “You didn’t feel worthy unless you were constantly moving and working and showing people online how busy you were. And that was just not sustainable. Luckily, it did burn out and we were all forced by mother nature to stop and really reprioritize some things.”
She paused for a moment.
“Or at least that’s what I did during the pandemic,” added Morris, whose career-cementing hit “The Bones” went to No. 1 at the beginning of the topsy-turvy time. “I feel like after ‘My Church’ came out, we just never slowed down.”
It was January of 2016 when Morris released the lead single “My Church” from her debut studio album “Hero,” with the song eventually helping Morris snag Best New Artist at the CMA Awards.
“Everything just picked up and we went into turbo speed for five years straight,” she remembered. “But then, the pandemic happened, and I was able to take the time to really process the last half-decade, you know?”
Indeed, for Morris, it was a time to not only look back but to look forward as well. She not only gave birth to her son, Hayes, but also released her new album, “Humble Quest,” a melodic myriad of emotional baggage unpacked and loaded into 11 addictive songs.
“Even though some of the songs are a few years old, I feel like they’re timeless and will always be timeless to me,” Morris said about a tracklist that includes everything from the lullaby “Hummingbird” to the rocking “Nervous” to the retro-sounding “I Can’t Love You Anymore.”
“Even years down the road from now, these songs will feel that way to me, because they are just really coming from a place of lightness. They’re just honest, beautiful portraits of a snapshot in time… even though that time wasn’t always pleasant.”
It wasn’t. At that time, Morris was still getting over the loss of her friend, collaborator, and creative soulmate Michael Busbee, who had long guided her in the studio as the producer and who passed away at the age of 43 in the fall of 2019 after a rather private battle with cancer.
“In these songs, he helped give me all of these colors that I now get to play with each night,” said Morris.
When it comes to her music, Morris said she hopes its meaning will resonate for years to come.
“When [husband] Ryan (Hurd) and I are both in our eighties and are just has-beens and everything that we’re talking about now is in the rearview, we’ll still have these amazing memories of our songs. At the end of the day, when all the shows and the lights and award shows and carpets are gone, we still will have this thing that we created that will outlive it all. I think about our songs being eternal.”
“If we didn’t have [their son] Hayes, our songs would kind of be our great-, great-grandchildren,” she continued. “But yeah, Hayes will have songs that will tell him everything he needed to know about his parents. [Laughs] He just better not ever sell our catalog.”