POP / CRAIG JENKINS - Hair of the Dog
New York magazine|January 18–31, 2021
A pop-country barfly pours one out for his fans’ expectations.
CRAIG JENKINS

“I THINK I’VE LOST myself a little bit. I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places, and … it’s left me with less joy.” In a video message posted on Instagram in early October, Tennessee singer-songwriter Morgan Wallen stared piercingly into the camera searching for the words to explain how a whirlwind year—one in which his 2018 debut album, If I Know Me, went platinum; his single “7 Summers” became a viral smash on TikTok; his son, Indigo, was born; and his Saturday Night Live debut was to take place in an episode hosted by Bill Burr—had seemingly gone off the rails. Pictures of Wallen kissing strangers and partying maskless with fans in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had caused SNL to pull the country star from the Burr episode and replace him with Jack White, citing a breach of covid-19 safety protocol. It wasn’t Wallen’s first slipup: In May, he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after being kicked out of Kid Rock’s honky-tonk in Tennessee and arguing with officers, an incident that produced a mug shot in which the singer affected the perfect visage of party-boy vacancy. A few days after the arrest, Wallen took to IG to post a fragment of a song he’d written about the recent tumult, a lilting acoustic jam in which he worried he was losing control: “I don’t wanna go downtown doing what we used to/Twist the top off another round, hell, I got enough loose screws.” Speaking with Nashville radio personality Bobby Bones the same week, the performer suggested his reputation for partying had gotten the best of him.

DANGEROUS: THE DOUBLE ALBUM MORGAN WALLEN. BIG LOUD/REPUBLIC RECORDS.

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