Cory Morrow: Accentuating the Positive
Listening to Cory Morrow’s new album, Brand New Me, one gets the impression of someone who’s gone through some troubled times, came out stronger on the other end and is indescribably grateful for making it through. That’s a fairly accurate description of Morrow’s last few years.
In 2005, Morrow was arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession. He was eventually found not guilty, but since that time, Morrow has worked hard to turn his life around. He’s since cleaned up his life and gotten married, and he and his wife, Sherry, are expecting their first child next year.
From an artistic standpoint, Morrow says that Brand New Me is the first record he’s ever made sober, and it’s also his most uplifting album. Several of the songs are written for and about his wife, while several others talk about making amends for his past mistakes while making the best of his second chance.
Morrow spoke with The 9513 last week to discuss the new album and his new-found happiness.
From listening to this album, it seems like you must have been in a heck of a good mood. What’s got you feeling so good lately?
I’ve just got a lot to be thankful for. I think I’ve become more aware of it, more accepting of it, and just grateful for it. I got married to a wonderful woman who helped turn my life around and steered me in the right direction, emotionally and spiritually. She helped guide me.
We just turned the business around, too. I had a lot of things that I wasn’t happy with, internally, with my business and my music. I found a friend who had never actively been involved in the music business but was a music aficionado and a very savvy business person. We talked for months and months, and I was telling him about some things I wanted to change in my business, and he helped me turn some things around.
I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me over the last several years. This album really, for me, is a celebration of those things.
I tend to write just whatever I’m feeling at the time. It’s hard to hide anything that I’m feeling or anything that goes on in my life because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Everybody knows if I’m in a good mood or a bad mood. I just can’t hide it.
I feel the same way with the music and anyone who wants to listen to it. I let them know what’s going on in my life by writing about it. It’s an open book, pretty much. It helps me get through it, and it really is a lot easier to write if I’m confessing stuff or being sad or celebrating. It all comes out in the music. I just write whatever I’m feeling at the time, or if nothing’s going on I try to write about what I wish was going on.
In the liner notes, you note a lot of these songs were inspired by your wife. How did you meet, and how did that relationship change you?
We met at a show through a friend. When I first laid eyes on her, I knew there was something about her, and then after spending just one night talking with her…she stayed with the band after the show, and we all hung out, playing guitar and talking. I didn’t get as far as a kiss, but I was just completely in love with her from that moment on.
She’s changed everything in my world. She’s pregnant now with our first child, and that right there is going to be a whole ‘nother decade of albums that will be written just from that miracle. Friends of mine who have kids tell me I’m finally in the club, so we’ll see what comes out of me. I can’t wait.
Are you ever nervous about approaching your wife with a song that you’ve written about her?
I’m always a little nervous when I first write the song. Sometimes you’re just not real sure whether it’s good or not, but I just play it to her the way that I feel and sing it from my heart. She’s usually pretty honest with me, but it’s a rarity that she doesn’t like something I’m doing. I try to make sure it’s at least somewhat decent before I bring it to her.
Tell me about the current single, “Lonesome.”
I wrote that with a friend of mine [Brian Davis] in Nashville. It was the first or second song we’ve written. I walked into the room, and he had the idea. I just thought it was really cool, more of a rock ‘n’ roll feel to it, and it really fit what I was feeling at the time.
It’s more about a girl who does you wrong and you kind of like it. That wasn’t where I was at the time, but I had been there for most of my adult life, so it was something I could totally relate to. The feel of the song was so cool, I just wanted to be a part of it.
I love the story behind “Fade Away.” Could you go a little into what that song means?
Basically, when we first met, I would take off all the time. We had moved in together before we got married, and we lived in Houston for a little while. It just didn’t work out for me, business-wise, so we ended up moving to Austin.
When we were first living in Houston, I was always gone on the weekends, and then I would go to Austin on Monday and Tuesday for work, to meet with the management and booking agent and the band. I was gone a lot, and every time I’d come home for a couple of days, she felt like we were starting over, and she would, like, build a wall up.
I’d ask her, “How could you act this way with a guy you’re getting ready to marry?” and she said, “I feel like you’re leaving me emotionally more than just physically. When you come back, it’s like we have to start over.” I told her that’s totally not how I feel, and that when I come home, I can’t wait to see her and get filled up again with that abundance of love. That [song] was my way of writing to her and let her know that me leaving is not me leaving. It’s just physically being gone, but I’m never going to let her and all the love she gives me fade away or disappear. I take that with me on the road, and that’s what keeps me sane.
You mentioned “Lonesome” was written in Nashville. Do you get up there often?
I do. I make it part of my routine these days. When I start to write, I’ve got a core group of people there and in Texas, and I call them up and we start making appointments and sit and talk, mull over what’s gone on over the last year or two. We just talk about life and music and sort of write it out. Some of my favorite people to write with are up there.
Being in the Texas scene, do you still see a “us vs. them” mentality with Nashville?
I think for sure at one time there was that. I don’t feel that way anymore. A lot has changed for me. Since I’ve met my wife and started walking a little bit different path, I’ve kind of seen the error of my ways, and picking fights with people just because they are doing well and don’t give you a chance is not necessarily the right thing to do. I think we’re all out there to play music and have fun and enjoy our lives. We’re all doing it in a different way, but it’s through music.
What has the support of the Texas music crowd meant to you in the last few years?
It’s meant everything to me. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and the crowds are amazing. A guy can make a good living just touring inside the state lines. The fan base is large, widespread and very devoted. Without that, we obviously wouldn’t have this movement going on. And they come out by the thousands to support you, and they get behind your records and read everything they can about you, and they want to know what’s going on inside you. It’s really awesome and makes the whole process worthwhile when people really take the time to find out what the words mean and come talk to you about it.
I think [with this album], people see something bigger than what’s been on the last several, and they see a really neat future. I’ve been getting a great response, and it’s made me feel really satisfied.
With the positive mind frame you’re in, do you still find yourself writing broken-hearted love songs and sad songs?
Like I said, I really try to write what I’m feeling, and if there’s something going on that’s disheartening, I’ll write about it. Usually there’s something going on in the world that can bring you down, but I was talking to a friend of mine about the difference between this album and the last albums is that all my albums have a little bit of hope to them. This one seems more like I’ve found what I’m looking for, and that leads me to not necessarily write sad songs anymore but…I recently started writing a broken-hearted love song, but it’s about a golf club. It’ll be more tongue in cheek.
So what do you see in your future?
Changing diapers, man. I’ll be tied up with that, and I really think that’s going to be the most unbelievable time in my life. I can’t wait to see how it affects work and my writing, and me personally. I’m really anxious to start writing the next album or two and start experiencing the whole fatherhood thing. I think the next couple years are going to be really beautiful, and I can’t wait.
When’s the baby due?
So what’s country music to Cory Morrow?
Country music is my heritage. I grew up on it. I lived in Houston, and my mother listened to KILT every morning, and it was Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Alabama, Conway Twitty. Some of the best country songs in the world playing on my radio when I got up in the morning to go to school. It’s been a foundation for most of my life.
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.