Maren Morris on why she left country music: ‘Couldn’t do this circus’

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Maren Morris has opened more about her decision to step away from country music, saying she has changed.

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“I couldn’t do this circus anymore — feeling like l have to absorb and explain people’s bad behaviours and laugh it off. I just couldn’t do that after 2020 particularly. I’ve changed. A lot of things changed about me that year,” The Bones hitmaker said during an appearance on The New York Times’ Popcast podcast this week.

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Morris became embroiled in several high-profile dust ups with her fellow artists after blasting Morgan Wallen in 2021 over his N-word scandal and lashing out at Brittany Aldean for thanking her parents for not changing her gender “when I went through my tomboy phase.”

But she realized she no longer felt at home in the genre after people criticized her looks and told her, “You don’t belong here.”

“I don’t want to say goodbye, but I really cannot participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore,” she told co-hosts Jon Caramanica and Joe Coscarelli. “I was cynical. I think rightfully so.”

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While she went on to add that reports of her “leaving country music” are overstated she “certainly can’t participate in a lot of it.”

“I’m OK just doing my own thing,” she said.

Last month, the Grammy winner announced her departure from the music genre in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, in which she chastised the industry for failing to confront its role as a “weapon in culture wars.”

“I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she said of country music. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”

For her latest two-track EP The Bridge, Morris, 33, switched to Columbia Records from the company’s Nashville branch because she began to feel “distanced” from the politics that have started to infuse the music genre, which she referred to as “butt rock.”

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“After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display,” Morris told the Times. “They were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music.”

Pointing to the popularity of Jason Aldean’s recent hit song Try That in a Small Town, Morris said: “People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.”

Calling herself a “status quo challenger,” Morris said that she saw too much she didn’t like from her fellow country artists.

“The further you get into the country music business, that’s when you start to see the cracks. And once you see it, you can’t un-see it.”

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