4 Songs You Didn’t Know Maren Morris Wrote for Other Artists

Born and raised in Arlington, Texas, Maren Morris started playing guitar and writing songs at 12 and began touring around Texas with her father Gregory as manager and booking agent.

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“Music was always this weekend job that I had while the rest of my friends were going to slumber parties,” said Morris in 2017. “It never seemed abnormal that I was singing in bars on weekends because that’s just what I’d been doing for so long at that point.”

By 15, Morris released her debut album, Walk On, followed by All That it Takes in 2007. After dropping out of the University of North Texas, Morris released a third album, Live Wire, in 2011 and moved to Nashville soon after.

Before releasing her self-titled EP on Spotify in 2015, Morris also co-wrote Tim McGraw‘s “Last Turn Home” and a track off Kelly Clarkson‘s hit album, Piece By Piece. Morris would eventually get her breakthrough with her 2016 major label (Columbia) debut, Hero, which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Best Country Album Grammy. Her debut single “My Church,” also earned Morris a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance.

Maren Morris performs onstage during day one of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on September 25, 2021 in Franklin, Tennessee. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival)

In 2019, Morris released her second album, Girl, which picked up more Grammy nominations. The title track peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, and Morris won an ACM award for Song of the Year and two CMAs for her single “The Bones.”

Adding to her own growing catalog of music, including her third album, Humble Quest, released in 2022, Morris has also written and performed as part of the country supergroup The Highwomen, alongside Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby.

Throughout her still-young career, Morris has already proved her mastery of storytelling.

In addition to her expanding catalog of music, here are three songs Morris has written for other artists along the way.

1. “Last Turn Home,” Tim McGraw (2014)
Written by Maren Larae Morris, Eric Ayles, Ryan James Hurd

Maren Morris first met her husband Ryan Hurd when they were co-writing Tim McGraw’s “Last Turn Home.” The two soon started dating and were later married in 2018 and had their son, Hayes, in 2020. A slow crooner, “Last Turn Home,” which appeared on McGraw’s 13th album, Sundown Heaven Town, tells the story of a man who realizes his rightful place.

And my life, and my mind jumped right off the track
You are the one place I don’t need a map
I can almost see it, see it
Baby I need it, need it
Hold me in your arms like you’re never gonna let me go
And never let me go

2. “Second Wind,” Kelly Clarkson (2015)
Written by Maren Morris, Chris DeStefano, Shane Mcanally

Kelly Clarkson‘s seventh album, Piece By Piece, went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with the help of her stirring title track, co-written with producer Greg Kurstin. Morris also co-wrote the uptempo “Second Wind,” a song about finding strength when individuals or situations try to break you.

Piece By Piece also features songs co-written by Sia, Shane McAnally, Kara DioGuardi, Natalie Hemby, Justin Tranter, and more, as well as “Run Run Run,” a Clarkson duet with her Voice co-coach John Legend.

Morris later covered “Second Wind” on her 2016 album, Hero, which helped her pick up a CMA New Artist of the Year award in 2016.

An airplane’s only paper ’til it finds a breeze
But don’t you know that it’s the low that makes the high so sweet
When they try to break, break, break you
That’s when you get your break, break, break through, yeah

You can’t forget about me
While you weren’t looking I was gettin’ even higher
Say what you want about me
Your words are gasoline on my fire
You can hate me, underestimate me
Do what you do ’cause what you do don’t phaze me
Just when you think I’m at the end
Any second I’mma catch my second wind

3. “Old School,” Toby Keith (2021)
Written by Maren Morris, Ryan James Hurd, Brett Tyler

Off Toby Keith‘s 19th album, Peso in My Pocket, Maren Morris was one of a small number of co-writers the country singer pulled in for the album. Former Van Halen singer, Sammy Hagar, even co-wrote the track “Growin’ Up is a Bitch.” For Peso in My Pocket, which Keith started writing at his home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during the pandemic, Morris and her husband, Ryan Hurd, co-penned “Old School,” an ode to how some things were done…back in the day.

Peso in My Pocket also features Keith’s rendition of John Prine’s 1991 song “Take a Look at My Heart,” which the late legend wrote with John Mellencamp.

Yeah, back in the high school, yeah they’re so cool
Letterman jackets in the parking lot
Draggin’ on a Camel light, back behind the Five and Dime
Prayin’ that they never get caught
Everybody’s gonna fish fry Saturday night
‘Cause if you call one, gotta call ’em all
Cruisin’ down the main street, drivin’ through the Dairy Queen
Ain’t got a Walmart, ain’t got a mall

4. “Bigger Man,” Joy Oladokun, featuring Maren Morris (2021)
Written by Maren Morris, Joy Oladokun, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Jeanne Veltz

Released on Joy Oladokun’s third album, In Defense of My Own Happiness, the singer and songwriter collaborated with Morris for her pensive single “Bigger Man.” I’ve paddled upstream where the river ran / I’ve turned sticks and stones to an olive branch, sang Oladokun, alongside Morris, who adds harmony and trades off lyrics with Oladokun.

When Oladokun wrote “Bigger Man,” it was the first day she had ever met co-writers Morris, Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Veltz. “We were bouncing ideas around the room, and I had this song idea that came to mind when I was meditating that morning,” said Oladokun. “The idea was about being the bigger man. In my life, I sometimes experience being the youngest and the most inexperienced, and yet I have to conduct myself as though I am way above my years or my maturity.”

Oladokun added, “I think it’s an old feeling, especially for women and people of color, of having to be stronger, better, brighter, and harder working at everything just to get a shot. We wrote from that place and the song was born. I’m really proud of what we did. I’m also excited about the friendship, and the things that were born out of it. I hope it helps people in the same way that it has helped me.”

I’ve paddled upstream where the river ran
I’ve turned sticks and stones to an olive branch
I’ve made a full house from a shitty hand
Yet, here I am, still gotta be bigger than the bigger man

Turn the other cheek
At some point you wonder, how nice can you be?
Was it up to me?
Maybe it’s your turn to think before you speak

Photo: Harper Smith / Sacks & Co.

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