Outsider A-Side: Elizabeth Cook Talks About the Reissue of ‘Balls’

by Blake Ells

Elizabeth Cook made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 2000, and she has been a fixture on the legendary radio show since. While she’d released a few albums in the early 2000s, including Hey Y’all and This Side of the Moon, it was 2007’s Balls that turned heads. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of its release, Thirty Tigers is repressing CDs and releasing the album on vinyl for the first time. That will include antique pink LPs and repackaged artwork.

Cook has said that she hardly recognizes “the sound of the girl on this record,” but that she recognizes her drive for independence and stubborn insistence on freeing her voice.”

As Cook reflects on 15 years of the pivotal album, Outsider talked to her about the decision to reissue it. She talked about the influences that inspired it and how her own legacy can inspire others.

Elizabeth Cook Reissuing ‘Balls’ After 15 Years

Elizabeth Cook: I’ve come a long way in every direction. It’s a marker in time but also artistically.  And we have a completely different way of sharing music now. So it’s fun to shine a light back on it and about the son that was too much for radio.

Advice for Young Women in Americana

Elizabeth Cook: Figure out if this is really what you wanna do and why.  And I think if you can be on solid footing in that knowing, you can handle the ups and downs and be what my friend Todd calls “a lifer”. There’s peace in that. Secondly, but just as important, pay attention to your body and your mind and start training how to take care of yourself in the most basic ways. You are an athlete.

Covering Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning”

Elizabeth Cook: Someone showed me the song on a cassette tape. The scratchy analog bendy sound and vibes of VU coupled with that mystical and whimsical melody, made me want to sing it.

Nanci Griffith’s Influence on Elizabeth Cook’s ‘Balls’

Elizabeth Cook: Having a cheerleader like her made me believe in myself more than I could on my own at the time, especially considering my recent failures at a straight career, and as a mainstream country radio babe. She gave me a big stage and shared me with her audience as her opening act. I can’t say enough about her. 

“Sometimes it Takes Balls to Be a Woman” Banned from Radio

Elizabeth Cook: It emboldened me. I had abandoned the mainstream country world in every other way and if I couldn’t do it on my artistic terms I wasn’t willing to accept the lifestyle. So once they banned that song I was like, okay peace out, yall, shit’s about to get weird. Real people responded to the song, so I knew I wasn’t on the wrong path.