Maren Morris won’t try that in a small town – because it is burning to the ground.
On Friday, September 15, Morris, 33, shared the videos for “The Tree” and “Get the Hell Out of Here,” the two songs from her new EP, The Bridge. In the visual for “The Tree,” the country music star finds herself in a miniature model small town – literally. She walks through the recreation of a stereotypical country town, with signs reading “Don’t Tread On Me,” “Go Woke Go Broke” and “I Believe in God & Guns.” At the center of the town is a dead tree, and after trying to water the nearby plants, Morris decides she’s had enough.
“I’m done fillin’ a cup with a hole in the bottom,” she sings. “And screamin’ the truth to a liar / Spent ten thousand hours tryna fight it with flowers And the tree was already on fire / Yeah, the tree was already on fire.”
As Morris tries to water the plants around the tree, the tangled roots wrap around her feet and prick her skin with thorns. As she sings, “the rot at the roots is the root at the problem,” and recognizing that there is no salvaging this dead garden, she lights a match. Yet, she realizes that the tree is already ablaze, and she decides it’s time to go.
Morris crosses a bridge to leave the small town as the tree burns. The fire continues to burn and consume the village, as seen in the music video for “Get The Hell out of Here,” the second track on The Bridge. In that video, Maren sings in a green pasture, safe and sound while the “Small Town” gets buried in ash.
“‘The Tree’ is about a toxic ‘family tree’ burning itself to the ground,” Morris said in a statement, according to Rolling Stone. The country music star added that halfway through, she “realize[d] it’s burning itself down without any of my help. This song evokes the pain of exhausting all your love and time for this person or ‘entity’ but realizing it’s just a draining, transactional relationship that isn’t nourishing in any healthy way. By the end of the song, I give myself permission to face the sun, plant new seeds where it’s safer to grow, and realize that sometimes there is greener grass elsewhere.”
The second song – “Get the Hell Out of Here,” is about Morris “quite literally [being] burned out,” she says in the statement. “This is a story of me feeling pulled in every direction, needing everyone else’s understanding and acceptance but my own and how self-destructive that ultimately became. I relinquish control of trying to change everyone’s mind or bad behavior and focus on my own power going forward. Doing the right thing can feel lonely at times, but there are more friends than foes, so I finally quit making myself one of them.'”
Morris announced the project on September 12. She said the two songs were “a tender duo and bridge to my next album.” Instead of saving the tracks for her next full-length, she realized “these two songs deserved a moment on their own – a story in their own right, written a day apart from each other.”
“These two songs are incredibly key to my next step because they express a very righteously angry and liberating phase of my life these last couple of years but also how my navigation is finally pointing towards the future, whatever that may be or sound like,” Morris said in the statement. “Honoring where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved in country music, but also freely moving forward.”
When Morris first posted a teaser for the two music videos, fans suspected she was shading her country music rival Jason Aldean. Aldean, 46, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his controversial song, “Try That in a Small Town.”
He and Morris clashed in August 2022 when he and his wife, Brittany Aldean, commented about transgender people. “I’d really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase,” wrote Brittany, 36, a not-so-subtle dig at parents offering gender-affirming care to trans youth. Morris, a fierce LGBTQ+ ally, reacted by writing, “It’s so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human?”