The first thing fans or journalists might ask Morgan Wade about her song "Wilder Days" is, "Why Chicago?" From there one gets to wondering if her lost love is still living there and what went wrong.

That's dangerous thinking. This part of the song is not pulled from the real life of the country newcomer. "It was just kind of the scene," she tells Taste of Country, succinctly explaining how artistic freedom works.

"You said you hate the smell of cigarette smoke / You only used to smoke when you drank / When you lived in Chicago / Unsure where the wind blows / I wish I had known you in your wilder days."

 

Sadler Vaden helped Wade pen the song for her critically acclaimed Reckless album, a project that made Taste of Country's list of the 11 best of 2021. Without sharing too much detail, the Virginia native admitted that yeah, she's been there wondering what he was like "when you were a little wilder / Why don't you show me / Why don't you show me."

"I think we all kind of have that person that we're like, 'Man, right person, wrong time. If I would have known you at a different time maybe this would have worked out,'" she says. "Maybe we would have made a mess or something. It would have been a good time."

"And you tell me every single secret in your mind / Come on, baby, we got nothing but time / You say I am too young for you / You're scared I'm too right for you."

The real-life twist of "Wilder Days" is that Wade's wilder days were really wild. That's behind her now. At 27, she's five years sober.

"It was just something I had to do," she admits. "I wouldn't be sitting here right now if I didn't get sober."

A song called "The Nights" from Reckless drops in on her battle to quit drinking. She says it started her freshman year of high school, and being in a band with big men who could throw 'em back quicker than she could wasn't a warning, but a challenge.

"You might not get paid, but you can get a bar tab. It was like, 'All right, I'm going to make the most of that,'" Wade says, smiling and stressing these aren't fond memories.

"I was a sloppy drunk, is what I was."

"And here we go / You got me falling in love again / You got a secret, I wanna keep it / I wish I had known you in your wilder days."

"Wilder Days" is inside the Top 40 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. Look for Wade on tour with Chris Stapleton later this summer.

Top 10 Country Songs of 2022 So Far, Ranked

There are plenty of feel-good country jams on this list of the top country songs of 2022, but the No. 1 song is a gut punch. These 10 songs are ranked by critical acclaim, radio and sales success, and importance to the genre.

Five of the 10 artists made our Top Country Songs list from 2021 as well, but there are no repeats. If a song made a previous list or didn't spend most of its time on the charts in 2022, it's not eligible. So, before you ask where your favorite song is, be sure the miss isn't just a technicality.