Soundtrack Of My Life: PJ Morton

Grammy-winning musician, long-time member of Maroon 5

The first song I remember hearing

The Commodores – ‘Easy’

“We would listen to this in the car going to church. Something about it connected to me. My family was very musical – most of them could sing or play an instrument. And in church, my dad was the pastor and he sang great too. Things come from the top down and since he was so musical he made sure that we had the best music in church. It was always top notch.”

The first song I fell in love with

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The Winans – ‘Tomorrow’

“My dad played it all the time… I like it because it’s all natural. It was one of the first songs that I wanted to hear over and over.”

The first album I bought

Stevie Wonder – ‘Music Of My Mind’

“There was a store called Circuit City near my house [in New Orleans] and every week I’d go there and buy a Stevie Wonder CD. This was the first one I could find – and it instantly changed me. I can still go through the tracks song by song. We were discovering the ‘60s and ‘70s all over again when I was a teenager in the ‘90s – and obviously that comes through in my music.”

The first gig I went to

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Commissioned, Dad’s church, late-‘80s

“I was lucky because my dad’s church was the hip church. It was the place where musicians would come and I remember this band Commissioned who became a big inspiration for me. They were on my [2020] gospel album [‘Gospel According to PJ: From the Songbook of PJ Morton’]. They set up their amps and the church had never been this loud! I was like: ‘Man, this is a concert!’

The song that reminds me of home

PJ Morton – ‘New Orleans’

“I wrote this before I moved back to New Orleans. I had started to feel a little lost in New York and LA and this took me back to when I was a kid and having all these crazy dreams, before anybody got to me to tell me ‘oh no, that dream’s too big’ or ‘you shouldn’t think like that’. When I think of this song, I think of home.”

The song I wish I’d written

The Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’

“It’s one of my favourites; so simple but complex. To me it’s the perfect song.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

PJ Morton – ‘Watch The Sun’ feat. Chronixx

“There’s so much music in my head. I’m a maniac that way. When I lock in, that’s where I am and it’s hard to hear anything else. I’ve been working on this album [‘Watch The Sun’] now for two years and it’s finally out. ‘Watch the sun’ is kind of like a mantra too – just wait until the morning. I know it’s been dark for you but just watch the sun come shining through.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Michael Jackson – ‘Rock With You’

“It must have come at a time in my childhood when ‘Off The Wall’ came out. There are videotapes of me dancing to that stuff in ’82, ’83. I was heavily influenced in my childhood, a lot of that stuff stayed with me. I think that’s why a lot of my music speaks to nostalgia. That period hit me the hardest so that’s the one that maybe is deep down in there. I do alright [dancing]. I’ll give you a cool little two-step, we won’t get too far out of the way. I’m usually behind the keyboard so I can fake it.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Frank Sinatra – ‘My Way’

“That’s what I want to be known for: that I took my own path, whether it took a little longer or whether it was non-traditional or not. I want people to be like: ‘PJ, he always kind of just did it his way’. So that song seems fitting and I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. Is it overplayed? Not at the funerals I go to. All the Black funerals that I go to, that are in churches, never play it. I’ve never heard it at a funeral. We would probably church it up too. They would PJ it up for me: the ‘My Way Remix’.”

PJ Morton’s new album ‘Watch The Sun’ is out now

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