In House With Craig Morgan: ‘This Ole Boy’ Talks Acting Aspirations & Sentimental Songs
Craig Morgan is a natural in front of the camera, probably because he’s had a lot of practice throughout his 12-year, multifaceted career. As the Tennessee native walks into our AOL Music studios in New York City, he carries with him the confidence of a country music superstar — and TV star, too. Craig’s hit show, ‘All Access Outdoors,’ follows the singer’s every day life, from hilarious outdoor antics to concert highlights. His musical life includes 14 Top 10 hits and membership in the coveted Grand Ole Opry, among a laundry list of other accolades. We spoke to Craig about his new album, ‘This Ole Boy,’ his friendly crush on actress Angie Harmon and Blake Shelton’s crush on him. Read our interview below, which also includes exclusive video footage of our visit with the affable artist.
Your single, ‘This Ole Boy,’ sounds like something you would’ve written yourself.
Rhett Akins, one of the writers, actually pitched me the song. He, Ben Hayslip and Dallas Davidson, the three of them had written it. Rhett said, “We’ve got a song we think would be good for you.” But I listened to it much later. What I do is take music that writers give me — especially writers I know, because I don’t want to be influenced by their friendship — and I put all the songs on a compilation. Later on, I listen to all the music in my truck.
When I listened to this song I thought, “Man, this feels really familiar.” So I called my co-producers and my co-writer and asked, “Hey, I just listened to ‘This Ole Boy,’ did we write that song?” It just felt that familiar, like a song I had written. It’s me. ‘This Ole Boy’ is me, but it’s also a lot of people. That’s why I love that song and why I titled my album [after it], because I felt like that entire CD encompasses who we are and the people who listen to and love country music.
What is the most autobiographical tune on the new record?
There’s a song called ‘Stories’ that’s fairly autobiographical. I race dirt bikes competitively, so I’ve been hit on the head and broke a bunch of bones. The song says, “You might have a lot less scars, but I’ll have better stories.” And as much as that one talks about me, there’s another song called ‘Being Alive and Living,’ which talks about the difference between being alive and just living. Every word in it is true-to-life for me.
Your label, Black River Music Group, is much smaller than your previous label homes. What are the advantages of that?
There are a lot of advantages, the main one being their ability to move quickly. We have the same amount of staff on this smaller label as the major labels have. If you look at the roster of personnel, you have the same amount of promotions people, sales, publicity, marketing and in some cases we actually have more staff than the major labels. But the difference is, when we go to make a decision, we make that decision in that room and then we go forward.
When I was on a major label, we would make a decision and then we would have to consult with the finance department, who would have to call the finance department in New York, who would then ask us for more information. So by the time you got what you needed, it was too late.
We’ve heard a rumor that you might guest star on ‘Rizzoli and Isles.’
I’m trying hard. I haven’t heard back [laughs]. Angie [Harmon]’s fightin’ for me pretty hard, and she wasn’t happy about the fact that I made an appearance on ‘Army Wives’ before I went on her show. ‘Army Wives’ was lots of fun. It wasn’t very difficult though, as I played myself. The acting thing is something I’d like to do. I’ve got a bit of the bug. I have my own TV show, so I’m in front of the cameras a lot. The cameras aren’t intimidating, but there’s a difference in non-scripted reality TV programming and scripted TV. And I’m learning to do more of that.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on your show?
I slapped my guitar player in the belly. He was losing weight, and he had a bit of a gut. He’s always had a bit of a gut. He was making fun of me saying, “You don’t have one of these,” and he filmed it without me knowing it. We actually put that in the show, that was Season 1. So in Season 2, I asked him, “How’s that belly looking?” He lifted up his shirt and man, I put a hand print on his belly! Quite humorous.
Being a Veteran, do you keep up with what’s going on overseas? Does watching the news ever make you angry?
No, you can’t be angry. Angry ain’t gonna get nothing accomplished. But, I absolutely keep up with it. I’m able to do it in a way most people can’t via my communication with the people that are serving. I’m still very dear friends with the people that are in the military that are in Iraq and Afghanistan. I speak with them weekly. I know what’s going on there firsthand, and we’ve personally made nine trips over there to entertain the men and women of the Armed Forces. It’s important to me. I served in the Army for a long time, and I do know this – it’s not something that I speculate about – if it were not for the men and women of our Armed Forces serving in various places around the world, we would not be living in the nation that we live in today. What happened on 9/11, in my opinion, it could happen again at any time. As long as we maintain that force abroad, we limit their opportunities to make those same mistakes.
So, turning to lighter topics, you and Blake Shelton have a funny relationship. It’s kind of like he has a junior high school crush on you, the way he picks on you.
[laughs] Blake has been a dear friend of mine for a long time. And we have had more fun over the years making fun of each other. It all started with Blake writing some stupid poem about my hair. See, he can’t write songs, he’s not a songwriter. And he usually only sings songs that have already been hits. It’s hard for him to make a song that you’ve never heard, a hit. So he re-cuts them. Which is good! It’s been great for him! [laughs] I’m just halfway picking on him. I mean, those things are true statements, but … [laughs] But Blake is one of my dearest friends. He’s truly one of the most underrated vocalists in the business. He’s having a lot of success, and I think he’s doing a phenomenal job on ‘The Voice.’ He’s representing our format very well. But I still don’t think that he gets the credit that he deserves as a vocalist, even though he’s received some awards. He’s a great singer, and he’s a good friend. He’s just got bad hair.