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Chris Stapleton writes songs, wife Morgane deems them worthy

Chris and Morgane Stapleton work, live, tour and raise two kids together. (Becky Fluke)
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Some men depend on their wives to pick out their clothes. Country musician Chris Stapleton depends on his to pick out his songs.

“My wife has great taste in everything but men,” Stapleton says. “The vast majority of the songs on my debut album, ‘Traveller,’ came from lists she made.”

Chris will be playing at the Birchmere on Thursday with his band, which includes his wife, Morgane, on backup vocals.
The two musicians met about 12 years ago. They were both working as Nashville songwriters, and Morgane liked to sit in her friend’s office at Sea Gayle Music and wait for Chris to show up.

“We’d hear the jingle of his keys as he walked down the hall, and we knew he was coming to play us whatever new song he had written,” Morgane says. “Eventually he asked me to write a song with him, and that ended up being our first date. We didn’t get much writing done that night.”

Morgane collected Stapleton’s growing catalog and listened to the demos on repeat. One song in particular, called “Fire Away,” stuck with her from those early days. A ballad about a couple having a blowout of a fight, “Fire Away” ended up becoming “Traveller’s” second track.

“It’s a very honest song, and that’s what I love about it,” Morgane says. “It says what I feel like when I want to fight: Let’s just have at it and be real.”

Chris was surprised when Morgane suggested it.

“I didn’t necessarily want to sing that old song, and now it’s one of my favorite things to play live,” he says.

Choosing from Chris’ thousand or so published songs wasn’t easy, but a few tracks were no-brainers, Morgane says. One such song was “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” a gut-wrenching ballad about a father’s crisis of faith. Chris wrote it while waiting for Morgane to get ready to go out.

“I was like, f— you for being able to do this. This is the most emotional, saddest country song I’ve ever heard, and you just spit it out in 10 minutes,” she recalls.

Overall, the two get along pretty well for people who live, tour and are now raising two small children together, Morgane says. Still, there’s no lack of fodder for future songs.

“Oh, we drive each other crazy once in a while,” Morgane says. “But being without each other drives us even more crazy.”

Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria; Thu., 7:30 p.m., $20.

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