When Maren Morris sat down to write her new song “Girl,” the first taste of her anticipated second album, she had confrontation on her mind. But midway through, she experienced an epiphany.
“I was writing it as a letter to another girl who I felt had disrespected me and was constantly trying to be competitive with me when I just wanted to exist in my own space,” she tells Rolling Stone. “But as we kept writing it, I realized I’m not talking to someone else — I’m talking to myself.”
That moment of self-discovery reshaped the tone of “Girl,” transforming it into an upbeat, optimistic single with a strutting, indie-rock guitar sound. Written with Sarah Aarons (who co-wrote Morris’s dance smash with Zedd, “The Middle”) and Greg Kurstin, the track seeks to remind Morris — and anyone who faces seemingly insurmountable odds — to never give up.
“I am talking to my inner critic that says I’m not good enough,” she says. “This is me telling myself it’s going to be OK and to chill the fuck out. Just write your music and put your blinders on. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or saying about you. Don’t water yourself down to appease them. Just focus on your art and the rest will fall into place.”
Morris admits the song is particularly potent in a time when women aren’t represented on country radio or even streaming services.
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“Looking at the country radio chart the last year, more titles had the word ‘girls’ in them than actual girls on the radio,” she says. “I think in my head I wanted to buck the trend a little bit and be like, ‘I’m a girl, and I’m going to sing about a girl, and I’m the girl.”
But the 28-year-old, who is nominated for five Grammys at next month’s ceremonies, was adamant that “Girl” focus on the positive. And she doubles down on a message of coming equality.
“[‘Girl’] speaks to a time where every woman that is in music, or not even in music, is dealing with issues that face women. We’re so overly well aware of what we’re up against, it’s almost like we’re sick of hearing it and I just want to look to the future and stop being in the present,” she says. “I’m constantly asked on every carpet, in any interview, ‘What’s it like facing the adversity of the lack of women at radio?’ There are only so many answers I can give, so I decided to put it in an album answer.”
Morris will launch her headlining Girl: The World Tour in March.