Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lauren Morrow is turning 38 this summer. She says “almost forty” thoughts occasionally take over her brain, attempting to sabotage the wins of her past and present. The curly-haired, curvy blonde is perhaps best known for her decade-long tenure as frontwoman of the popular Atlanta-based Americana band, The Whiskey Gentry. But now Morrow’s exploring a different, truer side of herself with the recent release of her debut album, People Talk.
A window into Morrow’s life, the lyrics on the ten-track record all describe her own experiences. The first single, “Only Nice When I’m High,” is a seemingly lighthearted, catchy tune, but it has a big message that’s simultaneously combatting the stigmas surrounding both mental health and cannabis.
The song’s accompanying music video features Morrow hanging out with a three-foot-tall joint that somewhat resembles a Sesame Street character—a similarity one may interpret as another attempt to normalize the plant. They chill on the couch together, go out and take photo booth selfies together, and yes, get high together. Like a true friend, cannabis is there for her when she needs it.
The refrain is hard to forget:
There’s only one remedy that I can find
to leave the prison of my mind
You know I’m only nice when I’m high
It’s not difficult to understand what these lyrics mean—Morrow puts it all out there. “The song is a very intimate look inside my brain, my thoughts about myself and how I fit in the world around me,” she says.
Speaking with Morrow from her home, the vocalist seems to be pleasantly surprised with the turn her life’s taken over the past few years. “If you would’ve told me when I was in my twenties that Cannabis Now would be interviewing me, I’d be like ‘yeah, fucking right’ because I just didn’t have any space in my life for marijuana, and now it’s something I use every day,” Morrow says, laughing. “I was the antithesis of a stoner in my twenties.”
Morrow’s first time smoking weed wasn’t a great experience. She was 15 years old, with her older brother and his friends out in the garage while their mom was out. “I definitely had a panic attack that first night,” Morrow says. “I must have just smoked way too much for my brain to handle.”
After that, every time Morrow tried to smoke weed, her nerves would rise to uncomfortable levels. “That’s the interesting thing with panic attacks, because once you run one down, your brain can trigger you to think it again,” she says. “It wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me for a really long time.”
Years later while touring out with Whiskey Gentry in Colorado, Morrow decided to give cannabis another try. “Everyone in my band smoked weed, and I was like it would be nice to have something that could relax me, but not make me feel stupid,” Morrow says. So, she walked into a dispensary and explained to the budtender how she felt when consuming cannabis—how it heightened her anxiety and made her feel panicky. “I got a strain I really liked and started dipping my toe in it and noticed there was a huge difference in my personality in a good way when I’d get a little high,” she says. “It chills me out, so I’m not wound up so tight.”
Lately, Morrow says her cannabis ritual takes place at the end of the day, just before bedtime. “My anxiety definitely ramps up in nighttime, so it’s been really nice to lean into that and just smoke some weed and turn my brain off and relax—not to have to think about what’s happening tomorrow, or what happened today, and just be more present.”
Living in Tennessee, where both medical and adult-use cannabis are illegal, it’s been hard for Morrow to get what she wants—unless she’s on tour. The idea to write a song about cannabis after all those years of thinking it “just wasn’t for her” came about while she and her husband and bandmate Jason Morrow, who she started Whiskey Gentry with, were Christmas shopping in an Atlanta City mall—undoubtedly an ambitious, anxiety-ridden task. Jason was getting stoned in the van before entering the madness and asked her if she wanted to take a hit. Morrow thought, “Yeah sure, why not?”
As they walked around, she says her husband looked over and said, “Hey, you’re a lot nicer when you’re high.” Morrow immediately thought it would make for a good song and got to work. Since the single’s release, Morrow says she’s received a lot of responses from women sharing that their husbands feel the same way about them when they smoke or take an edible.
“I think it’s because as women we have so much that we’re thinking about all the time and it can be really hard to shut our brains off, with all the things we deal with at work and home,” she says. “For me, cannabis is something that helps with my general anxiety, just trying to get out of my own head, so I can relax and be cool.”
While “Only Nice When I’m High” is resonating with busy women nationwide, Morrow’s own journey finding peace has been a long one. It was just four years ago that she was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. After deciding it was time to move on from Whiskey Gentry, Morrow and Jason moved to Nashville in 2017. Despite the close-knit community they found there, Morrow says some eye-opening experiences prompted her to seek professional help.
“My anxiety was getting so out of control that it was making me depressed, and it was making me not want to do anything. I just wasn’t myself. I was terrified to take medication all the time, but it really has changed my life for the better, 100 percent,” Morrow says, sharing that she now takes an SSRI in combination with cannabis. “I have no shame in talking about that. I feel better on something than I’ve ever felt, and I just basically suffered up until I was 34 years old.”
As Morrow embraces the present moment, her life seems to be coming full circle—rediscovering the clarity of her youth.
“I went through an intense awakening when we moved to Nashville that reminded me of who I was,” Morrow says. “In my twenties, I was all over the place. I was married, and I had a house, and I had all these things, but I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted to do, or if I was even really good at it. There was so much doubt and overthinking.”
People Talk—which Morrow says she and Jason ironically funded by selling cannabis during the pandemic—is the singer’s response to the doubt and all the negative noise that surrounds us. Understanding her musical influences, producer Parker Cason helped Morrow tap into her own sound which departs from the Americana and Bluegrass of her past and leaps into a new kind of “Psychedelic Geek Pop Country.” “What’s that?” Well, it’s Lauren Morrow.
Releasing her debut album at this time in her life wasn’t exactly Morrow’s dream, she says. But age
is yet another stigma to be thrown in with all the judgement around mental health and cannabis. In the music industry particularly, Morrow says women are generally mistreated when it comes to how they look or how old they are. So, on the verge of releasing her first record, she couldn’t help but think, “Why would anyone give a shit? I’m a dinosaur. People are supposed to do this in their twenties.”
Never mind that she had in fact been making music all that time, touring nationwide with a critically acclaimed band that had already produced four albums. In the eyes of many, she was a success. Morrow was searching for something different though—she was searching for herself. “Now I realize it took all of that time—all of that stuff—to be able to not only find my own voice, but also to not be scared of it,” Morrow says. “This music sounds different than what I’ve done before.”
Knowing yourself is one thing; putting yourself out there and sharing it with the world is a whole different beast. Crystals, meditations and affirmations help remind her who she actually is and what she can accomplish. When Morrow first moved to the country music capital, she said she frequently meditated by saying: “Everything I want is coming, and it’s already there for me.” And whenever she looked in the bathroom mirror, this mantra greeted her: “Everything’s always working out for me.”
Those kinds of self-care rituals helped Morrow build back the confidence she’d lost somewhere along the way. “I was never the most popular kid or the skinniest girl, but I always have had a lot of confidence, except for in my twenties,” Morrow says. “I finally feel like I’ve circled back around to ‘old Lauren.’ There’s something really freeing about not giving a shit. I am who I am, and I can’t change that, nor do I want to.”
Today, Lauren Morrow isn’t only nicer—she’s wiser—and she can, in part, thank cannabis. That’s something to sing about. (Full Story)