Lorrie Morgan admits that though she’s enjoyed success with many songs over the years, there still is something about her first top ten hit – 1989’s “Dear Me” – that strikes an emotion with the singer.
“That was – and is – a special song. Keith was still alive when we recorded the song,” she said referring her late husband Keith Whitley, who passed away as the song was climbing the charts. “He loved it. He was with me in the studio when we shot the video for it. He had rode his Harley into this old building downtown, and took the elevator all the way to the top floor, and was watching the shoot from the bannister. Every time I sing ‘Dear Me,’ I picture him there, and the excitement of that song. It was from my first album on RCA, and Keith was very instrumental in that, as well. So, a lot goes through my mind when I hear that song today.”
Looking back, Morgan, who had been performing since she was a teenager, says she was more than ready for the career she was about to have. “I would have been scared to death, if I knew what was about to happen,” she says. “But, I would have been ready, and sitting on go. It was what I wanted to do. You just never know, but I knew that Joe Galante and the team at RCA believed in the album, and I felt the music was right. Barry Beckett was the right producer for the album, and we were in tune with each other. It just all fell into the right place. The stars were in line. It was my time.”
The eternally vivacious performer is set to release her first solo album in six years on February 12. Titled Letting Go….Slow, Morgan tells Sounds Like Nashville that she’s so excited for this music to see the light of day.
“It’s wonderful. What can I say? I’m very prejudiced about it,” she said with a smile, while admitting “You never hear anyone say ‘You know what, my album stinks!” Really, though, it’s a great album. It took me about five years to get it done. I teamed back up with my producer and friend, Richard Landis. That was a wonderful experience to be in the studio with somebody who is as creative and enthusiastic about the music as I am. We had a great time making the record. I had most of the songs already picked out. I’ve carried one of them around for about ten years. We handpicked the musicians for the album, and they are the A-List. They are the ones that I’ve had the best relationship with, that get me and my sense of humor, as well as my hurt – as well as what the songs are supposed to be about. It was just a magical session for us.”
The new disc is a mixture of new material plus a few covers of some of her all-time favorite songs – such as Larry Gatlin’s timeless “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today.” She says it’s a song she’s wanted to record for quite a while.
“That’s a song that I have loved for years, and I wanted to cut it about ten or twelve years ago on an album. We had so many songs at that point, and it just kind of fell by the wayside. But, when I brought all the songs to Richard that I wanted to do, he said ‘Oh, my God. We have to do this song!’ When I told Larry about it, he asked if he could come in and sing harmony on it. That never happened, but every time I see him on the Opry, he asks when he’s going to get to hear the song. Next time I’ll see him, I’ll have a hard copy. I just got them in.”
One of the newer cuts from Letting Go…Slow is “Jesus and Hairspray,” which she jokes is very much steeped in reality. “I think the song is something I think every girl can relate to because those are two things you need – You need Jesus, and you need hairspray. When we pull out the Aqua Net, a lot of people don’t know what it is. That tells your age right there,” she notes. Morgan is one artist that has never minded poking fun at her glamorous image – or some of her life choices.
“I have a pretty good sense of humor. With the uptempo songs, I don’t want them to be too bubble-gum. They have to have some kind of depth. There was this song Pam and I recorded for Dos Divas where she sang ‘I tried to fix Charley. He loved to roll those dice,’ and I sang ‘I married Sammy. I almost married him twice.’ It was called ‘What Was I Thinkin?” I think you have to poke fun at your mistakes. You can’t take yourself too seriously.”
On the other end of the emotional spectrum is the traditional feel of “Lonely Whiskey,” of which she admits to being a huge fan of. “I was listening to that in the car this morning. I underestimated that one. I knew I loved it, but when we got in the studio, it sent chills through me. It makes me cry. You know how many people are in town at Tootsie’s and Legends and all those places, and there’s no such thing as ‘Lonely Whiskey.’ Someone always needs it or wants it. It’s so true. I’ve been on that barstool. I know that song. It’s actually one of my favorite cuts on the album.”
But, perhaps the shining moment of the album is her sultry take on the Southern Gothic classic “Ode To Billie Joe.” Written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry in July of 1967, the song has long sparked Morgan’s imagination – and she and her producer went to work on the track. “Richard purposely slowed the record down to make the musical passages through there really feel kind of spooky and eerie. Everything just felt so swampy and scary. Everybody has their own interpretation of that song and just what they threw off of the Tallahatchie Bridge.”