INTERVIEW: Lorrie Morgan

Lorrie Morgan is a name synonymous with amazing music and heartfelt lyrics that listeners can relate to in their own personal lives. Recently Lorrie released a new project through Country Crossing Records titled A Moment In Time. The CD is a collection of new interpretations of fourteen country classics produced by Wally Wilson and Chip Voorhis; recorded live in the studio without overdubs which has not been the norm for some time on Music Row.
Robert Reynolds and I sat down with Lorrie to visit about her new project, her life and what we can expect in the future from her.

Robert: Lorrie, you have taken something that is often, maybe, overdone. Or too often approached with the wrong agenda and you have done it so right. You want to tell me a little bit about your thoughts on that?
Lorrie: I would love to! When Wally Wilson talked to me about going in the studio and recording a country classic, I was really skeptical, I was like “You know I don’t know, everybody and their brother is doing one” and it’s kind of been way over done and so I said why don’t we put our heads together and think of a special way to do it, you know and make it come off a little bit different. So we decided we would go and we would do it like old school and as you know and what some people aren’t aware of, technically the way records are done now is the band goes in one day and the artist comes in the next day and then the background vocals, it’s all put together so technically or technical that we’ve lost a heart of making music. So we decided that we would take everybody in and be all in one room, nobody’s in a booth, nobody’s in a small area, we’re all in a circle in the studio no over dubs, and that was a really cool part for me because you know how professional and particular, Nashville musicians are so precise with everything and they agreed to do this. Which was you know what I thought a really gracious gesture on their part because they don’t want to be out there with a mistake on an album or anything just like nobody does but they all agreed to come in with no over dubs and I said “Look, I’m not doing any over dubs so y’all can’t do any over dubs”, and we had the best time. We did seventeen songs in two days. Harold Bradley was on the session and he was on so many of the original recordings, he said, “Lorrie this has been so much fun”, he said, “it has been so emotional for me like the old times,” you know it makes recording fun. We had strings and background vocals it was like living and making a real record.
Robert: You have phrased it all very well, I think people, fans and consumers of your music don’t realize that now-a-days you can almost make anybody sound good. There are all kinds of studio tricks and smoke and mirrors that can make just about anybody come up with a record. An actor can sound amazing on record now, even if they’re not great musically or vocally. It’s not running anyone down but in the old days you had to be really spectacular to even put out a record because there was no choice but to do this process,
Lorrie: Right, you had to be able to sing because if you couldn’t sing it was like well you can’t sing and we’re not putting you out, but now if you have just even the look they can put you out and pro tool you up and make you be whatever. The true test is when you can put anybody into an acoustic room and say sing and if they can pull that off then they’re a singer.
Robert: We’ve always known or most people know you are a real consonant professional, you are a real singer and you’re appreciated for it. I love your voice, I think you grabbed some of the finest songs and I think part of the secret of this record is, these songs, they are timeless.
Lorrie: Well as you know it is hard to pick those songs that you want to record and especially when there is thousands to choose from these old great country catalogs and we literally listened to thousands, maybe not all the way through but we went through days and days. Me and Wally were sitting there going “I like this one, I like this one, I like this one” finally we got it down to like twenty five and I told Wally I can’t go any more you’re going to have to pick the final seventeen I just can’t, I can’t eliminate these and so I was really pleased that we didn’t just do, we did songs that were surprises, like not just your typical girl song. You know what I mean? I like doing that, and I like a challenge it was a challenge to complete all these songs , seventeen songs in two days and it was a challenge to be able to pull it off and from a woman’s point when it’s sung in male perspective.
Robert: I haven’t thought about it until now but its usually two songs in seventeen days!
Lorrie: Yes it is! It’s unbelievable. You do two songs in two months, and we did seventeen in two days. So, it was incredible it was a lot of fast work.
Robert: There are a lot of great old stories like Sinatra giving the engineers a take or two and saying that’s it I’m done for the day, you better have captured it, I’ve done my part.
Lorrie: That’s right and you know what I think ? That’s how it should be. I think an artist can over sing and when you over sing it you lose that special sound and feel; and I like that feeling of the band. It makes me perform better.
Bev: Tracy Lawrence joined you on one song, can you tell me how that came to be.
Lorrie: Well I’m a huge Tracy fan, huge Tracy Lawrence fan and always have been from the time I first heard him sing. I love Tracy! He’s good friends with Wally, the producer of the album and we were in recording and Wally said…He’s good friends with Wally Wilson and he came by the studio to see Wally while I was recording and I was in the studio thinking who in the heck is that guy in there in the studio and I mean in the booth in there and he was standing with his head down and he was listening and I was thinking who is that?! And I walked in there and it was Tracy! I was like what are you doing here?! And he was like, “I just came by to see Wally I didn’t know you were doing this really cool project.” Wally said “Y’all I’d love to do a duet on this album” and I was like you want to and he said “Yeah”. He looked at the list of songs and he said let’s do this one and the next day he was in there singing with me.
Bev: Tomorrow night is George Jones at the Opry, you’re going to be on that. Tell me how, especially with the album you have out now and bringing back the old songs; how does that make you feel, the memory of singing some of those songs, and being a participant in the legends of country music shows.
Lorrie: You know, first off, I’m glad we’re having the legends. I think it’s important to honor these people while they’re still here. To me it’s a show that I think has been long overdue and plus I have worked with George for quite a long time and I’m still associated with George through our country crossings connections we have down in Alabama, which has been a really cool thing for me to be back in his life. Any time I can be at the Opry is a great thing for me. I’m happy that George is going to be there. I’m happy I get to do some older songs because I have a passion for that era in country music. That’s the music that made me fall in love with music. Working with George was an extreme, a great and trying, education for me in the music industry, because I had no idea that any of that kind of behavior went on because I grew up with my dad George Morgan, who was the total other end of the spectrum. Perfect dad, didn’t drink, you know it was calm and George was high strung in the time that I worked for him, all of his really, really wild days. When I left the George Jones show I decided that was it and I was getting out of the business. I don’t want it to turn me in to this. I got out of the business for a couple years because of my experiences with George. As I’ve gotten older and I have been able to realize you don’t have to be that to be in this industry. I started appreciating George a lot more too because I know he was influenced by a lot of crazy situations. And George is here, he’s still alive and he deserves to be honored for his triumph and overcoming of his demons and so I’m glad to be a part of his celebration and his legacy, tomorrow night.
Bev: When you perform a show such as this, does choosing and performing these songs put you back to a certain time and place?
Lorrie: Oh yeah for sure! Well of course when I do “Picture Me Without You” it puts me back to when I worked with George and sang harmony with him every night on that song. I think I’m doing “Are you lonesome tonight”, which I love the simplicity of that song, it’s acoustic and vocal. To me, it’s just a beautiful song. Plus, I love Patsy Cline; to me she is just the epitome of a female country singer. I get to perform “If You’ve Got Leaving On Your Mind” and I can remember the first time I sang that song I was on Nashville Now, years ago. I had gone back into the archives and found “If You’ve Got Leaving On Your Mind” and ever since I did it on Nashville Now I always wanted to record it. I was able to get that goal accomplished this year.
Bev: Early next year, you will be in New York to begin rehearsals for the Broadway show Pure Country, the 1992 film starring George Strait. You are cast as “Lula”, the role originally played in the movie by Lesley Ann Warren. Starring opposite of you is fellow country star Joe Nichols in the role of “Dusty”; What are you afraid of most with your involvement on Broadway?
Lorrie: Loneliness. I’m afraid of that. I’m not afraid of the criticism, I’m not afraid of being critiqued, I’m not afraid of you know anything other than being so extremely homesick for my boyfriend and my kids and of course my mom who is seventy-eight now. I’ve got five dogs and a bird, I know they’ll come to see me but it’s just that you know lonely feeling. That’s the only thing that scares me. I’ll overcome that, just a little apprehensive.
Bev: How many shows a week?
Lorrie: Eight of them. Eight shows a week, I think we’re dark on Mondays. I think there’s two matinee’s on Saturday and Sunday, then Monday’s off.
Bev: You’re not going to have any time to be lonely.
Lorrie: No, they’re going to wake me up and put me on the stage. The good thing about it is I’ll be able to rest during the day and I won’t have a lot of outer activities going on, I’ll just be focused on this job, getting it done, making some money and coming home.
Bev: Have you had the opportunity to sit and talk with Joe Nichols at all?
Lorrie: I have not.
Bev: I’m going to go back to the album in a way, I know you said you let them pick the last few, has there ever been a song you really wanted to record and a label said no to that you have on the backburner that someday you want to get out there?
Lorrie: Yeah, matter of fact I recorded it but it didn’t make it on the album and I thought it should’ve been a single for me. It’s an Angela Kaset song called “The Heart That Jack Broke” and it is just so me and represents so many women; and I am a huge, huge, Angela Kaset fan. I just love everything she writes but that is one particular song that I regret, that I really didn’t fight to get on the album. I have a feeling I will record it again.
Bev: Once the Broadway show is done and you’ve got the new CD project out that you’re promoting ; what do you see for the future of Lorrie Morgan.
Lorrie: Resting! After Broadway I’m going to take a little vacation to Italy. I’m going to Italy with my boyfriend and after that you know I just want to continue working. I love working the road, I’ve got a great band. As I said earlier, I don’t know if it was that interview or previous but I have that motherly guilt right now. I can go and I can really have fun and I’m not going they should’ve done their homework tonight, have they have a basketball game tomorrow night, I don’t have that right now. While I miss those days I’m happy that I’m able to really focus right now on some things that I need to do.
Bev: Speaking of your kids, your son, Jesse, how is he doing with his music career?
Lorrie: He’s doing awesome! He’s actually going to be doing a show at The Palace for some kind of tribute to his dad. Jesse has not let me get to much involved in his career because I’m very strict. I think he should do something a certain way and I told him any time you want me to help you, any time, you come to me and ask me; because when you do come to me I’m going to tell you so be ready. When he’s serious about it I’m ready to jump in both feet with him. But until he asks for my help I’m just letting him feel his own way. He’s got a great album he recorded.
Bev: I’ve seen you sing together twice, once at CMA Fest and again at the benefit that you did at Cannery Ballroom for Chris Kent. When you sing together it is so fun to watch you and you sound great together too.
Lorrie: He’s got a great album that he recorded, it’s not what I would’ve picked for him to do but he’s got a great album, he really does. It’s really a different cool album. Again, if he asks for my help then I’ll do it but not until he’s really…
Bev: Does your daughter sing as well?
Lorrie: No, she is a comedian and she’s a funny, ad-lib, funny kind of person. She gets stage fright, she just clams up. She’s actually got a pretty good voice, but she’s going to nursing school in January. She’s been to mortuary school, then cosmetology and now to nursing. She can fix up the dead people and if she kills them she can fix them up and embalm them. [laughs].
Bev: She’s how old?
Lorrie: She’s twenty eight. You know everybody her age have had babies and are getting married, they have a career. Morgan is hanging back in life and it’s like she hasn’t found her place yet. Which is fine ; you know, it’s hard to know at twenty-whatever what you really want versus what you need.
Bev: Lorrie, I have a feeling we could talk for hours, but our time is about up. Thank you so much for sharing so much about this project, the kids and all the exciting things you have going on with your life. Robert and I both wish you the best with this amazing new CD and look forward to seeing you again very soon.
Lorrie: Thank you both very much I loved visiting with you both and appreciate you taking time to come see me.

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