Country singer Craig Morgan had a lot of activities planned during his visit to Las Vegas prior to the ACM Awards, but no recreation was weighing heavier on his mind than the need to beat Blake Shelton.
No, not for an ACM, but at the NRA celebrity shoot that took place the day before the awards show. When Yahoo! Music caught up with Morgan, he was all taunt.
"Oh yeah, we'll put him in his place!" Morgan declared. "There is no competition. We're gonna win. I don't really know that, but if we have to cheat, we will. As long as Blake don't win, I don't care! He's doing so well at everything else, he'll probably get lucky. He will cheat, though. Blake will cheat."
Morgan doesn't come by his shooting bragadocio lightly. He's the host of the Outdoor Channel's All Access Outdoors With Craig Morgan... not just because it would be silly to get Hunter Hayes to host a show with Morgan's name in it, but because he's got years of cred behind him as a guy who could survive beyond the back 40.
"Actually, it was the No. 1-rated show on the Outdoor Channel on Saturdays," he points out. "It did so well that season 3 starts airing in July, and they've moved me to prime time Sunday nights... This year is gonna be some things that we've never done. We're doing some cliff diving. We went to Hawaii and did some surfing. A lot of hunting. My dad was a bass player in the music industry years ago—part of a group. We brought that group back together and I took 'em out on the road with me and let 'em experience touring now, compared with the way that it was in the late '60s. so it was really cool. A lot of personal stuff in this year's season."
He's moving into acting, although his appearance two weeks ago on Lifetime's hit series Army Wives wasn't a huge stretch, as he played himself. "I think the experience I've gained in the music industry over the years, as well as with the (Outdoor Channel) show, definitely paid off. It made things go a little smoother. There is a lot of difference between doing a scripted role and a non-scripted role, though. And that was a scripted role, even though I was playing myself. And I learned a lot. It was a great experience—so much so that we're actively pursuing and seeking some other opportunities now...
"As you guys know, Angie Harmon was in my video for 'This Old Boy.' She has a TV show, Rizzoli & Isles, so she was not happy about the fact that I was on that other show before I was on their show. So we're trying real hard to do something with those guys. She texted me the other day and asked me if I would play a serial killer. I told her I would do it, but I'd rather be a good guy."
Too much of an image stretch? He sounds just a little timid there for a second. Not really. "Ah, I'll do it. I don't care. Acting is great. Any time we're on national television, any of us in the country music industry, it's good for our industry. As long as we don't suck!"
Speaking of the word "suck," that's just the word Blake Shelton employed when referring to Morgan's performance on the clay range at last year's NRA celebrity shoot. "You guys suck," the ever-irascible Shelton told the artists gathered for the competition on Saturday. "It's embarrassing. Craig, you have a damn shooting show! Gary LeVox won this thing last year!... Let's raise the bar, for God's sake. Sober up!"
You can guess who the top celebrity shooter turned out to be Saturday, right? Yes, Craig Morgan.
You've got to take Morgan at his word, even when he's delving into the possibly fictionalized world of song. Asked if he and his wife have had any smoldering encounters like the ones described in "This Old Boy," the title track of his new album, he assures us he wouldn't lie about that, either.
"Oh no, it happens in my real life. All the music I sing is extremely personal and relatable." "This Old Boy," he says, "is just a fun love song. It's not going to cure any diseases and I don't know if it'll change anybody's lives. But when you hear it, you want to sing along, you want to roll the window down, you want to watch your girlfriend put her bare foot up on the dash of your truck. And I don't like people putting their feet on my truck! But that song makes you want to do that."
And maybe it did change at least one couple's lives, a little. "I hd a guy tell me day before yesterday that him and his wife had gotten in a big argument, and they got into his truck and they were driving and the song came on—and before the song was over, she'd already scooted over next to him in the shotgun seat. That's what music's supposed to do."