Lot of ups, not many downs for Wallen
Careers in the music business tend to go up down, up down.
For Morgan Wallen, it’s been mostly up.
Wallen had a record deal and a publishing deal within six months of moving to Nashville in 2015. He topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart earlier this year with “Up Down,” featuring Florida Georgia Line. Before that, he co-wrote (with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley) “You Make It Easy,” a chart-topping hit for Jason Aldean.
The top-selling country duo has been a big part of Wallen’s upward trajectory, and he will open for the pair on Saturday at Stambaugh Auditorium for Y-Live.
“We met when I first moved to Nashville,” Wallen said during a telephone interview. “We were working with a lot of the same people and just met at the studio one night. We started talking and got to be friends, hanging out a little bit. They knew I was a new artist and took me under their wing, treated me a like a little brother from day one.”
The crowd at YLive definitely will get to hear “Up Down” on Saturday, maybe twice. Wallen always plays it during his set, and frequently joins Florida Georgia Line during its set for a reprise.
“People don’t get tired of it,” he said. “It makes everybody feel good.”
Wallen’s latest single is “Whiskey Glasses,” a tune about turning to the bottle to get over a breakup. He’s been playing the song live since his debut album, “If I Know Me,” was released in April, and it clearly was a fan favorite.
“The data, sales and streams, backed that up,” Wallen said. “It’s one of my personal favorites on the album, and a favorite to sing. It was a pretty easy pick for me.”
Wallen originally dreamed of being a baseball player (an injury in college derailed that play), but music always has been a part of his life.
“I always loved music,” he said. “I grew up in the church. Mom found out I had a real love for music and singing and put me on stage in church. Later, when I got older, I was on the praise and worship team, that kind of thing. I always loved music. I played violin and piano and loved anything to do with it.”
Wallen’s father was a preacher when he was growing up, but his parents didn’t have a problem when their son went from singing hymns to singing, “But it’s happy hour drinking double shooters / Buying whiskey sours for a pack of cougars” on his song “Happy Hour.”
“They were always supportive of me.” he said. “They’ve not been the judge-y type of people ever. They understand real-life situations. That’s what we write about. That’s what we sing about. I don’t know if they agree with everything I sing, but we have a very good relationship. My dad is my best friend in the whole world, and my mom’s great too.”
He also believes those years playing baseball helped prepare him for the music business.
“I’ve always been a competitor. I hated to lose, and I hated to make excuses for it,” Wallen said. “There’s also the team aspect. You have all these people. There may be a star player on the team, but you have so many role players, so many doing so much to help the team that don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s the same with my music. I get a lot of the attention, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes working super hard to make sure everything is right.”