Grace Morrison — “Broken Things”
Americana Highways presents this premiere of Grace Morrison’s song “Broken Things” from her forthcoming album due Maybe Modern, due to be released on April 14. Maybe Modern was produced by Walt Wilkins and Ron Flynt, recorded and mixed by Ron Flynt at Jumping Dog Studio, Austin, and mastered by John Mailloux at Bongo Beach Productions in Westport, MA.
Musicians on the album are Grace Morrison on acoustic guitar and vocals; Walt Wilkins on acoustic guitar, percussion, and harmony vocals; John Chipman on drums and percussion; Glenn Fukunaga on bass; Rich Brotherton on electric guitars; Ron Flynt on Wurlitzer piano, B3 organ, Glockenspiel and baritone guitar; Lloyd Maines on steel guitar; and Betty Soo on vocal harmonies.
We had a chance to chat with Grace briefly about this song and the album. The song premiere appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: Would you give us some background on how this song “Broken Things” initially was sparked?
Grace Morrison: My grandfather was born in 1916 in a tiny little house known in town as the “Railroad House.” It’s so close to the train tracks it shakes when a train goes by. I remember him bringing me there as a little kid, and I remember that the house was full of family history. After he and his sister died in the late 90’s it just sat there abandoned.
Every day I’d drive by wishing I could go inside and see it again. Especially after my father passed, I wanted to feel connected to that side of my family again. It was such a tease driving by this boarded up house every day, but not being a criminal I never forced my way in. Until one day I drove by and an actual criminal had broken in. I’m such a dork, in my mind I was thinking “I can be a hero! I can save the family heirlooms”!
Walking inside was like time travel. There was my great-grandmother’s piano (she played for silent movies) and her super cool Victorian piano stool with claw feet. The family Bible was there. It was incredibly moving.
AH: So on one level, it’s literally about broken and abandoned things and the memories attached to them, but is it also a metaphor for what it means to be human?
GM: My family (like all families, I imagine) has struggled with mental health and yet until my generation nobody had the means to address that. Mental health wasn’t even a concept when my grandfather was alive. So it struck me how all of these things that had been sitting there for so long were still sturdy and functional, and yet the people who had lived there were expected to be just as sturdy-which had the opposite effect.
I often think about how different things could have been had my parents and grandparents been allowed to say “I’m a little bit broken, I need some help.” To some degree there is a trickle down effect – I certainly have been impacted by the lack of mental health care available to my grandparents.
This song is about owning being a bit “broken”- realizing there can be beauty in that. That there’s no need for shame. AND deciding that I will tend to my mental health so that my son and his children can be the beneficiaries of my own self-care.
AH: And tell us a bit about how the album got started:
GM: I love this album! I jokingly refer to it as an “accidental” album that decided on its own it wanted to exist. Initially, I had reached out to Walt Wilkins to produce two singles for me. But then he said, “You know if you’re going to do two, you may as well do four, because you’ll need the studio for 2 days either way.” Then at that point, my publicist said she needed 6 songs to do a full promotion… and once you’ve recorded 6 may as well do 9 right?
The songs are all about, in one way or another, self-reflection. Assessing choices you’ve made so that you can become a better version of yourself.
I worked very hard lyrically on this record and I’m really proud of it.
AH: What was it like working on the album?
GM: We drove to Austin (my husband and 3 year old in our EV) from Massachusetts to work on this (not realizing it was March and that’s tornado season in Austin. A tornado struck just outside our hotel, what an adventure for this New England gal), which was an incredibly beautiful experience in and of itself. Side note-trying to order a salad at a DQ grill and chill in West Texas isn’t gonna go well. That’s my tour advice.
Every moment in the studio felt like magic…I most definitely cried when we were done.
Also, I particularly loved the moment when bassist Glenn Fukunaga said to me “I can totally hear the chicks singing this song”…..and later realizing he meant THE CHICKS because he was their road bassist for a long time.
Thanks Grace. “Broken Things” is faded imagery, crisp memories, in the sweetest and purest vocal tones you can imagine, and “her piano strings still singing out of tune but loud … a hundred years of living … we’re all just bronken things.”
Find more information here: http://www.gracemorrison.com
and here: https://gracemorrison.bandcamp.com
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Video Premiere: Grace Morrison “Just Loving You” co-write w/Lori McKenna
and listen to the song right here: