Circles Around This Town

Album: Humble Quest (2022)
Charted: 52
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Songfacts®:

  • After local success as a teenage singer-songwriter, Maren Morris left her hometown of Arlington, Texas, in early 2013 and moved to Nashville to further pursue her country music dream. Her first few years were full of soul-crushing setbacks, such as failed auditions for The Voice and American Idol, and songs put on hold that never got recorded. By the middle of the decade she began getting placements as a songwriter, starting with tracks for Tim McGraw (2014's "Last Turn Home") and Kelly Clarkson (2015's "Second Wind"). Morris' breakthrough as an artist came in 2016 with "My Church," a song that came to her in the car.

    Here, Morris reflects on the years she spent driving circles around Nashville as she tried to find her place within the music industry. "It's an honest but light look at what it's like to continuously chase down a dream," Morris told Apple Music. "It's just a fun song to jam in your car to."
  • Morris starts off the first verse by recalling traveling from Arlington to Nashville. She made the journey in her red Mitsubishi Montero sport with a busted AC, carrying "a couple bad demos on a burned CD."

    By the end of the second verse, Morris has caught her break.

    A couple hundred songs and the ones that finally worked
    Was the one about a car and the one about a church


    Morris' first two hits were "My Church" and "80's Mercedes." That same Montero Morris drove from Texas to Music City inspired "My Church," symbolizing how it all came full circle for her.
  • On the chorus, Morris concludes on how having found success, she's going to keep her foot on the throttle; the country star won't cut back on her hard work ethic.

    Yeah, got here but the truth is
    Thought when I hit it, it'd all look different
    But I still got the pedal down
    Drivin' circles around this town


    The car metaphors Morris uses throughout the song are another throwback to "My Church" and "80's Mercedes."
  • Morris co-wrote the song with:

    Country songwriter Jimmy Robbins. His previous collaborations with Morris include "I Could Use a Love Song" and "The Bones."

    Pop singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. Her resumé includes hits for the likes of Justin Bieber ("Sorry") and Selena Gomez ("Lose You to Love Me"). Though "Circles Around This Town" was Morris' first time writing with Michaels, she did record the duet "Line By Line" with her boyfriend JP Saxe.

    Morris' husband and frequent muse for her songs, Ryan Hurd.
  • The autobiographical song came together in 2020. Because Morris struggles with Zoom co-writing, she penned the song safely in-person with her three co-writers. "I brought that title in and Julia was the one, I think, to sort of prompt me to get really specific with the narrative of that first verse," Morris told Apple Music. "I would love to keep continue writing with her because she's amazing, but this was the only time that we had written and she just knocked it out of the park with getting really, really specific to me and getting to know me, but also putting it in the song."
  • Greg Kurstin served up the buoyant country-pop production that recalls Morris' early hits. Kurstin previously co-wrote and produced "Girl," the lead single and title track of Morris' second album. His other credits include hit songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson ("What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)") and Adele ("Hello," "Easy On Me").
  • Morris dropped "Circles Around This Town" on January 7, 2022, just days after the nine-year anniversary of her move to Nashville.
  • Because it was Julia Michaels' first time writing with Morris, she probed the Texan singer about her background and move to Nashville. "She was asking me all these questions, almost in a sort of 'get to know you' interview way, and what she was actually doing was getting lyrics for the first verse," Morris recalled to Audacy's Katie Neal.

    Though Morris had brought the song title into the session, she hadn't planned on telling her own story. Once they decided "Circles Around This Town" would be about her, they "got real specific about the car I drove, and the callbacks to '80s Mercedes' and 'My Church' in the second verse."
  • The Harper Smith-directed video draws inspiration from the videos of 1990s music artists. "I could see the visuals for 'Circles Around This Town' the moment I wrote the song," Morris said. "I've always been so inspired by the industrial, blown out colors of music videos from the '90s, so Harper Smith and I wanted the aesthetics of this video to reflect that grainy, devil-may-care attitude of all my females heroes from that era: Sheryl, Fiona, Alanis."

    The clip shows Morris' bedroom when she was a teenager in Texas. "Obviously, having a penchant for the nostalgic, we decided to recreate my teenage bedroom and pin old photos of me as a kid on the walls and have me typing on an old PC computer," she said.

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