Morgan Wallen had a great year in 2020 from a career standpoint, but his life away from the spotlight was considerably more difficult. In a new interview, the budding country superstar reflects on the important lessons he’s learned from his mistakes.
Wallen’s very public trials in 2020 included a May arrest in Nashville following an incident at Kid Rock‘s downtown bar (a judge declined to prosecute Wallen on charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct in July). In October, Saturday Night Live producers scrapped Wallen’s planned debut appearance after viral videos of the singer partying maskless with fans in multiple different locations made the rounds on Twitter and TikTok. He stepped away from the spotlight for a time after that, saying he feared he had lost himself.
The mainstream attention Wallen received after his viral videos was eye-opening, he admits to People.
“I guess that’s when I truly figured out that things are different now,” the 27-year-old singer reflects. “That was the moment for me. I knew that I was becoming more and more popular, but I didn’t realize it was to that extent.”
“I had to take a step back and really look at when I took that turn,” he adds. “That’s when I started realizing what the term ‘superstar’ meant. I mean, I get it. I understand that I offended some people, especially with everything going on in the world. I understand that … I should have been more aware.”
Wallen attributes part of his naturally rebellious streak to his childhood growing up as a preacher’s son in small-town Tennessee, where he was expected to live up to other people’s heightened expectations. As a result, he says, “I’ve not ever been the one to follow the rules as much as some people.”
That’s reflected in the title of his most recent album, Dangerous, which he released in early January after a period of soul searching away from his career, part of which he spent unplugged at a friend’s farm. One big takeaway for Wallen is that he’s now looking for a farm of his own to buy — a move that he hopes will not only help him spend his downtime more peacefully, but also help him keep in touch with his country roots.
Wallen reached another big breakthrough during that time, he says, by realizing who he is “at the core” when he’s not defining himself by his success and fame.
“I figured out that I love that person,” he says. “And really, the reason why people are gravitating toward you in the first place is because of that person.”
Wallen’s fans certainly seem to agree. Dangerous debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 as well as the Top Country Albums chart, and the project has been breaking streaming records previously held by Luke Combs. The first lead single from the project, “More Than My Hometown,” reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart, and its follow-up, “7 Summers,” hit the top of the Hot Country Songs chart.