It seems that the breath of fresh air, the shot in the arm, the new blood and new thinking that Country music and Country radio needs will never arrive. If they put their thinking caps on and rolled up their sleeves a little, it could easily and quickly be the most fresh and vibrant format on the radio. Ah, well. Like some other stories, it revolves around conglomeration, lack of vision, and fear.

One of the most sterling and obvious examples of an artist that belongs everywhere the word Country is spoken is Elizabeth Cook. She's real Country, she's powerful, she's beautiful, she is both traditional and original. Call me old fashioned, but that just happens to be what I'm looking for.

When I heard that her new flagship tune was "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman," it was obviously time to sit down again and have a little talk. The artist is always a very surprising person; there is a genuine aw shucks-ness about her that belies a very keen and original intellect that is a joy to share. And with it she's very forthcoming, and humorous.

High on the list of things I would insist upon if I ruled the world or any significant portion thereof is that Elizabeth Cook would be declared the Loretta Lynn of our time and that all employees of Clear Channel be returned promptly to the business of selling cars. Kudos to The Grand Ole Opry for consistently recognizing the depth of talent this artist continues to bring to the table. Her new record, Balls, produced by Rodney Crowell, is a milestone.

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