Maren Morris is putting her feelings about current U.S. affairs into a powerful new song and she doesn’t care whom she may offend.
On “Better Than We Found It,” Morris questions if history will look back kindly on how she rose —or didn’t— to the occasion. “When lines of tomorrow are drawn/Can I live with the side that I chose to be on?/Will we sit on our hands, do nothing about it?/Or will we leave this world better than we found it,” she sings in the song she co-wrote over the summer with Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins and Laura Veltz.
“I wanted to write something to address exactly how I feel right now, and this came together pretty quickly,” said Morris in a statement. “It’s a protest song—it’s the most American thing to protest and protest songs have been so embedded in American culture: Bob Dylan, Nina Simone.”
She addresses her detractors right from the start, opening the song with “If you don’t like it, then get the hell out/That’s what they yell when I open my mouth/A stick is a stick, a stone is a stone/But who’s gonna care if I don’t?/Who’s gonna change if I won’t?”
She pleas for unity, singing, “America, America divided we fall/America, America God save us all from ourselves and the hell that we built for our kids/America, America we’re better than this.”
If she doesn’t make her points clearly enough in the song, the accompanying video, which features Morris performing the song acoustically in a spare church with a wooden cross in the background, leaves no room for doubt about how she feels.
Between her performance footage are vignettes of Nashvillians impacted by our current turmoil, including a young man who has been in the country since he was a child under the DREAM Act, who has to leave and return to his native Mexico by January, as well as heartbreaking comments from the parents of Daniel Hambrick, who was killed by Nashville police in 2019. The video also contains footage from young Black Lives Matter organizers.
A portion of the proceeds from the video, directed by Gabrielle Woodland, will go to Black Women’s Health Imperative, a non-profit organized by Black women to advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls.
Tacked on to the end of the clip is footage of Hayes, Morris’s six-month old son, and the singer, as Morris dictates a message to him. “You have been my precious silver lining these past few months,” she says, as she pledges to do better. “Our education must grow alongside our empathy,” she says. The video ends with a single placard with the word “Vote.”
Morris makes it clear that unbecoming a mother has helped her realize her responsibility to next generations. “I think the world right now is sort of in a perpetual mourning period and I wanted to have a song that had weight but also had hope,” she continued in the statement. “I still have hope for this country and for the future of it, and as a new mother I wanted to promise my son that I’m going to do everything in my power to leave this world better than the one I came into and the one I see right now.”
While country artists ranging from Dan + Shay, Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard have all spoken out in support of Black Lives Matter, Morris is the first mainstream country artist to voice her thoughts in a song written specifically during the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.