Craig MorganCraig Morgan, who spent 10 years serving in the United States Army before he began his music career, is fulfilling his dream writing and singing country music. One of his biggest hits, 'That's What I Love About Sunday,' spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts and was the biggest country hit of 2005. His other top hits -- including 'Almost Home,' 'Redneck Yacht Club,' 'Little Bit of Life,' 'International Harvester' and 'Bonfire,' will no doubt, lay the groundwork for a dynamic showcase of his talent that will be on display when he joins Carrie Underwood's Play On tour which kicks off in Reading, Penn., on March 11.

The Boot caught up with Craig backstage at the Grand Ole Opry to get a preview of the tour. Plus he tells us funny stories about music, marriage and "marching" to the beat of Keith Urban.



We know you were somewhat campaigning to be on the Brooks & Dunn Last Rodeo farewell tour. But instead you are getting ready to hit the road with Carrie. Is that kind of a "when one door closes, another one opens" thing for you?

Oh, absolutely. I've always felt that way. I love Ronnie (Dunn) and Kix (Brooks), and Kix is a bit of a friend, adviser and mentor at times. I'm not sure I want to take all of his advice [laughs], but he's not near as pretty to look at on tour as Carrie is! This is just perfect. It's a great mix, and I'm excited about this tour. I have understood that she and I are going to be doing a duet every other night or so at the end of the show. She'll bring me back out, which is very cool, and I just love her for that. So we'll get to prepare for that, and practice those things. So missing out on the Brooks and Dunn Last Rodeo tour was a blessing!

You and Carrie will no doubt mesh well together. But have you ever been on tour with someone who got on your last nerve?

Yeah, someone got on my last nerve at the beginning of a tour. It was in a few shows early in my career, and it's an individual who's no longer in the business, but he was just a complete butt-head to the fans, and I just had no respect for him because of that.

On a happier note, have you ever been the victim of a good tour prank?



Keith Urban and I were doing a bunch of shows together early on. Neither one of us had had a lot of success, but we'd had some ... enough that we were doing a bunch of shows together at fair and festival time. I had a song called 'I Want Us Back.' It wasn't a single, but it was a song that I loved doing on the shows. It was a real tender ballad. About halfway through the song, I hear this hot and sexy female voice in my (ear) monitors going, "Craig, I just love you" and all these sexy things. And I'm freaking out because I'm trying to sing while this is going on in my head. And I looked over and there's this lady on the side of the stage with this horrible outfit, making these horrible faces and Keith behind her going, "Yeah!"

The next day, Keith's playing, and I hired a 40-piece marching band to come marching down through the center of the crowd in the middle of his show. He kept right on playing like I wasn't there. [laughs] It was awesome. He was a good sport. We had a lot of fun.

Whether or not they were probed by Keith Urban, you do have a lot of adoring female fans. How does your wife put up with all those women flirting with you?!

She allows it. She has a whole lot more confidence in our relationship than I do! [laughs] She's not bothered by it at all, especially with this occupation. She's seen it. She has a lot of confidence in our relationship. I think it's a reverse psychology thing she's doing. So she figures, "Oh, do what you want, I don't really care," knowing that I wouldn't so that throws the extra guilt. [laughs]

You've been married 21 years. What's the one thing your wife tolerated early in your marriage that she won't put up with now?

My obsessive-compulsive behavior disorder with neatness and cleanliness. When we were in the Army, young and with a baby, I would leave and go on an exercise -- whether it be training or a real-life situation, and I would come home and all but inspect the house. I had high expectations. And now, she doesn't care. I can inspect all I want, and it's not going to change anything. I end up fixing or cleaning what it is that I don't like. [laughs]

Let's say your wife puts on a dress that you're not too crazy about. She says, "How do I look?" What do you say?

"You look frickin' awesome! I love it!" [laughs] I've been married 21 years ... "As long as there's nothing underneath it, baby, it's great!" [laughs]

Let's say one of your four kids wants to follow in your musical footsteps. What's your advice?

That's awesome. Let's get the college education while we try to do the country singing thing. I have one that wants to. She loves to sing. She's a great writer, and she's a great singer. But she's also good at other things. I told her let's do that ... write songs and do that. I worked three jobs while I wrote songs. So you can do that and get your college education, too. You need to have a back-up plan because it's a tough business.

What's the most frustrating thing about the music business and the most rewarding?



The most frustrating is being away from home and how little impact you can have on your career. Unlike anything else I've ever done in my life, I could drive my career in my life and my success. As a salesman ... car sales are dictated by how hard you work. As a soldier, how well I did my job dictated my progression. This industry here, it doesn't matter how good you sing, it doesn't matter how great a record you make, there are a lot of extenuating factors that dictate what happens in your career that you can't control. So that's frustrating.

One of the most rewarding things is the impact that I've learned that we can have on people's lives. I've learned not to take that for granted. I used to joke and say that songwriting and singing is not brain surgery, it's not a big deal. But the reality is sometimes it can be as important or even more so than brain surgery. And I've learned to see people and hear their stories and find out what the music's done for them in their lives, so I don't take that for granted anymore.

You spent 10 years on active duty in the Army before you launched your music career. Did you have any life-changing experiences during that period of time in your life?

Once you shoot somebody, everything changes. I was in Panama in 1989 for the ousting of Manuel Antonio Noriega. I was with the 82nd Airborne Division. I was assigned to them during Desert Storm. I can list hundreds of experiences and things that changed my life. They didn't change my life at that moment, but they were building blocks I think that helped establish who I am today.


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