Craig Morgan released a six-track project on October 20, titled Enlisted, on all music streaming platforms, featuring two brand new tunes, as well as reimagined renditions of four of his greatest hits: “Almost Home,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “That’s What I Love About Sunday” and “International Harvester.” With support from Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, Blake Shelton, Gary LeVox, Lainey Wilson and Trace Adkins, the EP is truly something special.

In an exclusive interview with Music Mayhem, Morgan chatted about how the collaborative project came to be (which was not his original intention), sharing the one-of-a-kind experiences he had with each of the chart-topping artists who he enlisted.

Andrew Poppas, Craig Morgan; Photo Courtesy of Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry
Andrew Poppas, Craig Morgan; Photo Courtesy of Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry


As for the title of the EP itself, Enlisted has a double meaning. First and foremost, Enlisted is a nod to Craig Morgan’s decision to join the United States Army Reserve live on the Grand Ole Opry stage this past summer. After previously serving for seventeen years in the Army and Army Reserve, the talented singer-songwriter will continue to release music and tour, all while simultaneously serving our country — how cool is that?

Secondly, the Tennessee native decided to call the EP Enlisted because he was essentially recruiting (or should we say enlisting?) some of his closest friends within the country music industry to be a part of the project.

“It was a play on words,” Morgan prefaced, before explaining how he landed on the title of the EP. “We started out with the title Reenlisted, and the idea was that I’m recutting some of my hits and I’m enlisting some of my friends to help me, and obviously the play on the words because I just reenlisted in the army, but really that’s what it was about. It’s about recutting my hits and enlisting my friends, and we just narrowed it down to Enlisted.”

Craig Morgan 'Enlisted' EP Art
Craig Morgan ‘Enlisted’ EP Art

How Enlisted came to Be

As for how the EP itself came to be, the old-school troubadour never intended on putting out a collaborative project…

He explained, “I will be honest, it didn’t start because of the hits. In fact, my management has been trying to get me to recut ‘Redneck Yacht Club for over a year, and I just said, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’”

Morgan needed the perfect people for him to revive some of his greatest hits, but fortunately, everything just fell into place.

“We just started thinking about hits and people that I would call to sing those songs with me, and I wanted those songs in some way to have a relationship or impact with the person that I’m bringing on board,” the Broken Bow Records recording artist explained.

Craig Morgan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Craig Morgan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

He continued, “For example, ‘Almost Home.’ Anybody that’s watched anything in country music has seen Jelly Roll on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry talking about that song and what it meant to him, so that was kind of a no brainer… Next was ‘International Harvester,’ and we wanted to do that one with someone that, again, the song may have in some way impacted them or had something to do with them, and Lainey Wilson told the greatest story about when she was younger, riding around in a truck on a farm with her dad, singing that song. Plus, we thought it’d be really cool to have that song from a female’s perspective.”

While those are just two of the six tracks featured on Enlisted, each and every one is oh-so special to both Morgan himself, as well as the artist he collaborated with.

Enlisted Tracklist

  1. “Raise The Bar” featuring Luke Combs (Craig Morgan and Billy Dean)
  2. “Almost Home” featuring Jelly Roll (Morgan and Kerry Kurt Phillips)
  3. “Redneck Yacht Club” featuring Blake Shelton (Thom Shepherd and Steven J. Williams)
  4. “That’s What I Love About Sunday” featuring Gary LeVox (Mark Narmore and Tommy Dorsey)
  5. “International Harvester” featuring Lainey Wilson (Danny Myrick, Jeffrey Steele and Shane Minor)
  6. “That Ain’t Gonna Be Me” featuring Trace Adkins (Morgan, Wade Kirby, Trent Willmon and Phil O’Donnell)

“Almost Home” featuring Jelly Roll

As mentioned previously, while all six artists featured on Enlisted are country music superstars, Morgan’s collaboration with Jelly Roll is truly one-of-a-kind.

In the same interview, the 59-year-old explained how Jelly Roll first caught his attention, all stemming from a viral video of his speech on the Grand Ole Opry stage: “I was actually on the road, and a buddy of mine called me and goes, ‘Hey dude, there’s this guy named Jelly Roll in Grand Ole Opry. You need to find the video. I know somebody filmed him, and he told this story about you and the song and how it changed his life in jail.’”

The video is sure to make any viewer shed some tears.

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Collaboration With Jelly Roll Is “Full Circle” For Craig Morgan

“This song is full circle for me. It’s about situations you are sometimes in that you just mentally want to be somewhere else. ‘Almost Home,’ it’s something that I listened to in jail. Me and my cellmates could really relate to it. When I got out, I spent what little money I had and went to see Craig Morgan at the Grand Ole Opry and cried when he sang it,” the rapper turned country singer gushed onstage.

“The next morning I got up and literally typed in ‘Grand Ole Opry Jelly Roll’ and it popped up, and it just absolutely floored me, and by floored me, I mean it humbled me,” Morgan continued passionately. “I’m sure there were tears in my eyes. I was just so touched by his story, and I immediately got on the phone and called management and I said, ‘Get me a phone number for this Jelly Roll guy [and] I want to meet him. I want to tell him thank you.’ He was thanking me, but I don’t think he realized how much impact he had on me, and that’s what started our friendship.”

Since connecting with one another, the duo has performed “Almost Home” on the Grand Ole Opry stage together, as well as during a sold-out show at the Ryman Auditorium. Craig Morgan and Jelly Roll have really brought the 2002 hit back to life in a whole new way.

“Every time I see him, I feel like I’m seeing a friend that I’ve known for years, and I just love the guy to death. I love his story, I think he’s very inspiring, I think he’s motivating, he’s proud, he’s humble, he’s grateful, and we share a lot of the same emotions and gratitude for our careers,” Morgan concluded with a smile, ultimately touching our hearts.

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“Raise The Bar” featuring Luke Combs

While a majority of Enlisted is centered around revamping some Craig Morgan classics, the country crooner included two never-been-heard-before tracks on the EP, with the first one being “Raise The Bar” featuring Luke Combs.

“‘Raise the Bar’ is a play on words,” Morgan explained. “I had that title on my list of song ideas for years, and I knew that it would have to be a play on words, but I just wasn’t sure until I sat down with Billy Dean and I was telling the story where it came from, and and we just started writing it.”

Then, the country music legend proceeded to share what said backstory is: “I could see me and a bunch of my buddies after a hard day of working around the farm, going into a bar and getting in there and realizing that maybe we’re not in the right bar, a place where people are really dressed up and there’s more wine and cheese than beer… We talk about how we’re here to raise the bar, and you know, bring in some working class.”

“Ironically enough, I’m not a guy who drinks beer. I’m the wine and cheese guy, so I’m kind of poking fun at myself a little,” he said with a giggle.

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“That Ain’t Gonna Be Me” featuring Trace Adkins

Another new track featured on Enlisted is “That Ain’t Gonna Be Me” featuring Trace Adkins, and it is equally as exceptional.

While “Raise The Bar” stemmed from Morgan’s oh-so creative brain, “That Ain’t Gonna Be Me” is an entirely different story. “I didn’t bring that to the table. I think Trent actually had the idea, and Phil and those guys were sitting down writing it, and Phil called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re on a song that I think would be great for you,’” he explained before diving into the meaning behind the track itself.

“He wasn’t thinking about any project or nothing. He was just talking about me writing it with him because of my perspective, having been in the military and serving again,” the talented singer-songwriter spilled. “It just really tells the story about how I think we as middle America, and I think the majority of the people of this nation, are proud of our country, our God, our family, and we believe that we have an obligation to speak up, but do it with love and kindness, but stand firm on the idea of this nation being a great place to live and being proud of who we are and what we do as a country and as a people.”

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Given his history, the US Army veteran could not be a better individual to sing “That Ain’t Gonna Be Me.”

Connections beyond Craig Morgan’s New EP, Enlisted

Despite creating beautiful music together, Enlisted is super special to Morgan due to the friendships that he has with Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, Blake Shelton, Gary LeVox, Lainey Wilson and Trace Adkins beyond the EP.

“Every one of these people that joined me on this project aren’t just other artists. I’m not friends with artists because they’re artists or because they’re famous. I’m friends with these people because we share something in common, whether it be love of God, family, country or maybe all of them, so these people aren’t just people that I would record with. These are people that I would actually hang out with and have a glass of wine or a beer with [and] these are people that I love….are my friends. That’s how and why they’re there,” he shared.

Grateful For His Collaborators On This Project

While working on Enlisted together was loads and loads of fun, Craig Morgan could not be more grateful that his friends took the time to be a part of this project.

“It increased my level of respect in particular, and especially for like Luke and Jelly and Lainey… I realize and respect that they are busier right now in their careers than they ever will be. They are at the pinnacle of busy in their career. Doesn’t mean that they won’t be the same busy next year. They will be, and they can be if they want to be,” he explained.

“For them to take time out of their schedules that, again, are the busiest that they may ever be and and come share with me was very humbling. I’m so grateful to all of them, but especially those three… For any of these guys to take time out of their lives to come be a part of this project to me was very humbling,” the country crooner concluded with a beaming smile.

Craig Morgan and Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Opry/Chris Hollo
Craig Morgan and Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Opry/Chris Hollo

Fans can check out Enlisted now on their favorite music streaming platform.

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Melanie has been writing for Music Mayhem since August of 2023. Originally from Southern California and currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee, she graduated from Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in 2023 with a BA in Journalism. During her time as a music/entertainment journalist, Melanie’s work has been featured in Country Now, Celeb Secrets, We Got This Covered, Decider and more. You can connect with her on Twitter to see all of her recent articles: @MelanieRooten

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