Craig Morgan is very upbeat these days. The Grand Ole Opry member has just released a new single, “When I’m Gone,” and to say he’s excited for people to hear the song is an understatement
“I feel like I have made the best music that I have ever made. I can honestly say that. I said that with my last record. It was good, but there’s something really special about this music. I feel like the stars aligned and everything was right. I think it’s some of the strongest things I have ever done lyrically. Vocally, I think it’s the best that I’ve ever been, and sonically – which I think is the key, I think it’s the best sounding record I’ve ever had.”
After working with longtime friend and producer since 2003, Morgan switched producers for this project, using the services of Byron Gallimore (Tim McGraw and Sugarland).
“It was an awesome experience. Byron is one of the sweetest people. He took me out of my comfort zone, and made me think about things a little differently. It was a different approach, and the record is the proof is in the pudding.”
Morgan explained that Gallimore’s ability to transcend styles really served him well.
“He’s so great at the sound he captures. Regardless of the content, it still sounds fresh. I told him that I didn’t want to do it if I wasn’t relevant. It had to be music that radio will play. I think we not only did that, but we made some music that people will hear for years to come, I hope.”
Ironically, it was O’Donnell who suggested that Morgan try his hand with someone else behind the glass.
“To his credit, he said ‘You should try something different, and see what happens.’ I’m glad he supported it the way he did. That made it a lot easier.”
The comfort zone that Morgan alluded to definitely was different, he said.
“I had worked on every record with Phil. I knew exactly what to expect. I knew his energy. I know his body language. We didn’t have to communicate in order to make something happen. We had been very successful, so it was difficult to walk away from that to try something new. I was going into it as it was unproven and uncharted. Byron has had success, and I have – but when you bring two new elements together, you never know what’s going to happen. It turned out to be magic.”
“When I’m Gone,” which has just hit the radio airwaves, contains a lyric that definitely is relatable to the singer.
“The song is about right now, and taking advantage of the time you have and trying to do something good so that when you’re gone, that’s how you’ll be remembered. There may be somebody out there who don’t care, and they’re laying down in their tombstone and telling the world to kiss their butt. I’m not that guy. We can all say we don’t care what people think, but I think the reality is that we do. You want to do the right thing, so that’s how you want to be remembered. It’s about living your life to the fullest – right now – so when you’re not here, people will remember that about you.”
Around Morgan’s home base of Dickson County – roughly an hour west of Nashville, he is thought of very highly. This weekend (October 17), he will be hosting his annual charity weekend.
“Instead of the off-road trail ride, we’re doing a golf tournament. That’s going to be a lot of fun. As soon as it’s over, we’re going to go to Downtown Dickson. We’ve got a street closed off, and music will start at 3 PM. There’s games for the kids, and a lot of other activities. The community has really gotten involved. We do it to raise money for Billy’s Place, which the Dickson County Craig Morgan Foundation is working on.”
The Foundation builds and maintains a home for temporarily displaced children in Dickson County Tennessee and provides lasting funding to the home and various other children’s organizations whose primary goal is to ensure the well-being of children, and integrates outdoor activities in their daily lives with the long-term goal of starting such homes around the country. After holding the event for several years, he is closer than ever to making his dream a reality.
“We really expect by the end of the year to have some land purchased. We finally have the funds, and we’re getting it all together to move forward.”
Morgan’s television career continues to proceed as well, as he serves as the host of the popular Craig Morgan’s All Access Outdoors, which airs on The Outdoor Channel.
“The sixth season is still airing, and we’re in the rerun cycle until December. We’re in the process of filming for next season already. When we first started, I really thought it would just be for a year – maybe two, if I was lucky. But, next year will be our seventh.”
He added that some of the visits the show will make during the next season include Illinois, Florida, Texas, Europe, Norway, Germany, and Scotland.
And, as if he didn’t have enough on his plate, Morgan can be found on Friday nights cheering on the local high school football team, the Dickson County Cougars, for which his son is a member of the team.
“He’s a senior this year, but he messed up his rotator cuff in last week’s game. I’m hoping that it’s not torn.”
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 15 years since the singer released his first single, “Something To Write Home About,” and indeed his career has.
“There’s days where it seems like it’s been forever, and then there’s days where it feels like I just started. It’s like the new song. It’s about living your life to the fullest. People ask me what my ‘bucket list’ is. I don’t have one. I just live. Every day is a new day, and whatever comes, comes. There’s a reason for everything that happens. Just enjoy each day.”