Craig Morgan Shares Studio Secrets About Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, and More

On Friday (October 20), the 59-year-old Tennesse-born country star Craig Morgan released his newest EP, Enlisted, which features some of the biggest names in country music, from Lainey Wilson to Luke Combs to Blake Shelton and Jelly Roll. Therefore, Morgan is supremely qualified to shed a little insight into what it’s like to work and collaborate with these superstars.

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We caught up with Morgan to get the inside scoop, asking him to shed a few industry secrets. Thankfully, Morgan obliged us. Below, Morgan talks about songwriting and recording with Combs, Jelly, Shelton, and Wilson.

[RELATED: Blake Shelton, Lainey Wilson Appear on Craig Morgan’s New EP]

American Songwriter: For your new EP, Enlisted, you worked with some of the biggest names in country music. Let’s go through a few names on the album and maybe you can share a little songwriting or studio secret about each. That work?

Craig Morgan: Yeah, go.

AS: “Raise the Bar” with Luke Combs.

CM: It’s not about a bar! It’s about raising the bar, making things better, making the place that you go hangout a better place to be!

AS: And how did Luke contribute to the track?

CM: I’ll tell ya, the same applies to Luke as it does Lainey and Jelly. I told all three of ‘em, “I know that you’re as busy as you will ever be in your career.” They really are. They are at the busiest point they will ever be. So, for them to have taken the time out of their lives to be a part of this project for me was very humbling. And I’m so grateful. Not only for their participation in this project, but [for] their friendship.

And Luke, I can remember sitting in a coffee shop with Luke years ago and him stressing over a tour that he had upcoming. He was so nervous about it. And I remember laughing, going, “I feel confident, Luke, that you’re going to be just fine!”

AS: How about with Jelly Roll and “Almost Home”?

CM: It was very special. Jelly has an entourage. Anybody that has ever seen him knows that there is 20 people-plus following him around everywhere he goes. The day we were in the studio, Jelly drove up himself, he walked into the studio by himself. So, it was just me and Jelly and my co-producer and one other person and the engineer in the studio. And it was very, very special. It was a full circle event. After him standing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, telling that story and us doing that song together. I’m always amazed, everybody talks about and said this, how Jelly talked about how important that song was to him. What they don’t understand or don’t know, it was just as impacting, his story was just as impacting on me as the song was to him.

AS: And How about Blake and re-recording “Redneck Yacht Club”?

CM: Blake and I have been friends for over 20 years. He’s my favorite idiot in the whole business. I love him! He is a very kind, caring, loving person, who jokes about everything in life, he is one of the sweetest people I know. But he is an idiot! And so working with an idiot can be difficult sometimes! But there’s a cool thing about that song—we did it in a more of a islandy vibe. The steel drums that are on that is Jimmy Buffett’s steel drummer.

AS: Lainey Wilson. What was it like to work with her on “International Harvester”?

CM: She’s an absolute—I knew Lainey before she had this thing, before anything really took off, before she had a real big hit. In fact, before her first single, our record label called me and said, “Hey, we want you to write with this new artist we got, Lainey Wilson.” And I put it off a couple times, and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it was just that I was really busy at the time. But when we finally got to sit down, I was so grateful. She’s not only a super talent, a phenomenal singer, great writer. But she’s also one of the more beautiful humans. She’s so kind and caring, loving and family-oriented. She’s everything that my family and I are about. She’s very much about God, family and country.

So, I had her out and we wrote. And I loved it so much that we brought her on my podcast that we were doing at the time called Fridays At Four. And we sang a song that we wrote that day and just hung out. It was just a very cool moment. So, it’s really awesome and amazing for me to see where she has come to and where I know she’s going to go. So, to have her on that song—and for her, I mean, she told me the story about her and her dad riding around on the farm when she was young, singing that song. So, it’s a pretty, again, full-circle moment.

Photo Credit: Nate Griffin/Courtesy of Monarch Publicity

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