Growing up in the sprawling flat lands just south of Lubbock, Texas, Ross Cooper got his country music education while riding in the passenger seat of his dad's pickup truck. But while Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and more ruled '90s FM radio, it was a cassette tape that changed the game: The Mavericks' 1994 album What a Crying Shame.
"When I was 6 or 7, I found the Mavericks in the tape player of my dad's old pickup," Cooper tells Wide Open Country. "At the time, everyone I knew was listening to George Strait, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks, but my dad loved that Mavericks' album, so soon, I did too. It felt familiar. Fiddles and telecaster and honky-tonk. It felt like west Texas and nothing like west Texas. A Roy-Orbison-style-vocal crooning over country shuffles and two-steppers. I love that album. It takes me back to every rodeo dance I went to growing up; tripping over my feet to a local band covering 'There Goes My Heart.' Top to bottom, that album is stacked with great songs."
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Cooper, who released Chasing Old Highs earlier this year, says he's continued to look toward the Mavericks as an example of artists who've built an extraordinary career by being true to themselves.
"When I listen to it now as an adult, I still love the album, but for other reasons. What draws me to this record is that The Mavericks have always sounded like The Mavericks. They put out well-crafted songs and execute them with THEIR style. They're unique. They're the best versions of themselves. To me that's the goal. It's taken awhile, but if I've learned anything, it's that I only want to sound like me. For better or worse," Cooper says. "The Mavericks and that record drip with style. And to this day, they still sound like the band I found in my dads truck. Sure, they've grown up [and] matured, but the sound that drew me to them is still there. That's what I want. That's the goal: to build a career while staying true to my art."
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