Where do you even begin to describe Elizabeth Cook? Do you begin with her work? Singer, Sirius XM Outlaw host, voiceover actress? Or do you describe her past? The youngest daughter of a hillbilly singer and a moonshiner who played bass in a prison band? Favorite guest of David Letterman? However you want to describe her, Elizabeth Cook is an intriguing individual. Her persona on her popular radio program, Apron Strings, at times has you questioning her accent and her acumen, but don’t underestimate her. She’ll proudly inform you that north Floridians come by this accent naturally and listen to her long enough and she’ll reel you in with stories about taking upper level math classes just for the hell of it, Christmas presents she got from her agent (gourmet popcorn) or opening for Mel Tillis when she was a just a child.
Because I listen to Elizabeth Cook’s radio program regularly and because she’s rarely in Tulsa, I knew her upcoming show at Cain’s Ballroom, opening for Todd Snider, was something I didn’t want to miss out on. The show was a bit of an unusual one for the Cain’s, in that it was a completely seated show. I worried that fact might not make for a good selling show, but I needn’t have worried. Nearly every chair was filled and there were many others standing in the back. Taking the stage on this warm, May evening, Elizabeth sported a jumpsuit emblazoned with the solar system, complete with swinging pink fringe, white cowboy hat and tall boots. With a short introduction, she jumped into the set with “El Camino,” followed by a trio of new songs, “Bones,” “Stanley by God Terry,” and “These Days.”
Elizabeth’s set is a lot like her radio program. There’s some self-deprecating humor, followed by stories of her large family and some of her favorite people in the music business like Rodney Crowell or headliner, Todd Snider. These personal stories are what make a good set a great set. The best story of the night was about Elizabeth’s parents picking out presents for her at Wal-Mart, from her childhood right up through her 20’s, though the stories of her early times in Nashville and selling shoes were equally as entertaining.
The best song of the night is a new song by Elizabeth called, “Mary: The Submissive Years”. This is Elizabeth’s sister song to John Prine’s song, “Jesus: The Missing Years.” I can’t even describe this song in a way that does it justice. It’s thoughtful, it’s lyrically funny, but heartbreaking at the same time. You can see Mary, sitting there, sad, maybe slightly depressed and wishing that he son would come home, while she does everything in her power to keep busy in order to keep her mind off that very fact. I absolutely loved this song and can’t wait to hear it on an album. After a standing ovation, Elizabeth did an encore with one of her most popular songs, “It Takes Balls to Be a Woman.”
If you haven’t experienced Elizabeth Cook live, then you should, at least once. Hearing her sing, “Mary: The Submissive Years” and listening to a few of her stories would be well worth the price of a ticket. Elizabeth is out on tour throughout the summer and you’ll be able to catch her at various festivals and venues. You can find the dates here: https://www.elizabeth-cook.com/ and read our Key to the Highway interview with her, here: Key to the Highway: Elizabeth Cook