On Miranda Lambert Writing with Morgan Wallen

Morgan Wallen remains a persona non grata to many in the entertainment and country music media class for his stupid and completely inappropriate, but also overblown dropping of an N-bomb on one of his buddies in jest during a private moment made public by a busybody neighbor. Twitter types won’t give up this fight because it allows them to signal their virtue, and paint the entirety of country music as racist so they can attempt to obtain reprisals and concessions from the genre.

But Morgan Wallen’s fellow members of the performer class continue to step up and put their names behind him in small and large ways, giving him a window in which to slowly creep back into polite society, if he can continue to mind his p’s and q’s, which has been a problematic challenge for the performer in the past.

Country artist Jimmie Allen has been one of the biggest proponents for Wallen from the start. On April 27th, Wallen also posted a photo of himself with reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Eric Church. The two appeared to be fishing, or golfing, or fishing in golfing attire.

Then on May 22nd, Wallen posted a video of himself singing a new song acoustic style called “I Thought You Should Know,” dedicated to his mother. In the comments of the video, a dozen or so artists and other public figures in the country industry piped up, giving Wallen praise and support for the song.

Though some of the praise was coming from the usual suspects you would expect to remain buddy buddy with Wallen no matter what he’d done—guys like Jason Aldean, Old Dominion, Dustin Lynch, and Cole Swindell—also chiming in was Miranda Lambert, who apparently wrote the song with Wallen and well-known mainstream songwriter Nicolle Galyon.

“Thanks for letting me and Nicolle Galyon write this special song with you. Sounds great,” Miranda said. Neither Miranda nor Morgan Wallen indicated exactly when the song was written aside from “a while back,” so we don’t know if it was before or after the N-word incident. But either way, both Miranda and Nicolle Galyon felt comfortable enough to promote their participation in the song, which perhaps wouldn’t have happened a few of months ago.

Though some still on the cancellation wagon see this as a scandalous development, they’re taking the wrong perspective on this. Whatever you may think about Eric Church or Miranda Lambert’s music or even personalities, these are the type of people Morgan Wallen needs to be hanging out with if he’s going to remain on the path to rehabilitation. While some want to ban Morgan Wallen from music and society for life, if we’ve learned anything in the months since the N-word incident, it’s that this is an unrealistic scenario.

Despite the incredible effort to marginalize and cancel Morgan Wallen after the N-bomb incident, he remains at the top of popular country music. His latest double album Dangerous remains a perennial at the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart, even without any significant radio support, or support from major streaming playlists or recommendations. Even Alan Jackson releasing his first album in nearly six years couldn’t knock Morgan Wallen out of the top spot.

In fact the continued effort to banish Morgan Wallen is what is likely fueling a lot of his popularity, and making him into a folk hero to some. Though some of his critics say people support Morgan because he’s racist or they’re racist, for his part Morgan Wallen has said all the right things since the incident. He’s apologized extensively. He got sober. He’s told his fans not to defend his actions. He’s explained why the N-word is hurtful, and attempted to turn the situation into a teachable moment for himself and others, despite both true racists within his fan base, and illiberal activists refusing any path to forgiveness for him having done their best to muddy the situation.

Furthermore, if Morgan Wallen is going to truly stay sober as he’s committed to, he’s not only going to need the right people around him to support him in that effort, he’s going to need outlets like music with which to focus his mind on as opposed to alcohol or other substances. Attempting to banish Wallen to the cellar could or will only exacerbate his personal issues, and push him towards more unsavory characters where he will find social acceptance.

On May 19th, Morgan Wallen took the stage at Kid Rock’s bar on Lower Broadway in Nashville to perform a couple of songs—one acoustic, and one with the house band. Some were immediately sent apoplectic by the unannounced, un-ticketed, impromptu performance. Marcus K. Dowling, who often writes for CMT, absolutely lost his mind over the development, saying:

“When Morgan Wallen made his official return to country music by contradicting his own April 13-dated statement about not hitting the stage this summer by singing ‘Whiskey Glasses’ and ‘Wasted on You’ Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse, the unprecedented era of good feeling country music had engendered screeched to a halt. The shit … has hit the fan.”

So Morgan Wallen playing two songs in a bar has erased all good will in country music when it comes to race over the last few years? This seems extremely hyperbolic, as does characterizing it as his “official return,” or as going against his April 13th statement when Wallen said he wouldn’t be going on his arena tour this summer. This was two songs. In a bar. It’s unhinged and agenda-driven characterizations such as these that are turning this situation sour.

But in some respects, it is disappointing to see Morgan Wallen hanging out in Kid Rock’s bar—not necessarily because of any personal opinion on Kid Rock or his music, but because of the increased likelihood of recidivism for Morgan Wallen hanging out in a bar where someone could easily slip him a drink or a pill as opposed to, let’s say, Miranda Lambert’s living room writing a song, or out on a golf course with Eric Church.

That’s why people shouldn’t be lashing out at Miranda Lambert for writing songs with Morgan Wallen. They should be encouraging it. Because Morgan Wallen is not going anywhere. This is a fact we should all be able to agree on. He is the biggest thing in all of country music at the moment, whether we like it or not. And as a community, we should come together to support his rehabilitation, not push him aside under the false notion we can get rid of him, only to allow him to fall among the people who won’t be a positive influence for his forward progress.

It shouldn’t be socially unacceptable to interact with Morgan Wallen. It should be socially unacceptable to get in the way of his rehabilitation and recovery.

© 2021 Saving Country Music
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