Photo: Jody Domingue

Ross Cooper – “Lady of the Highway” (audio) (premiere)

Cowboy-turned-songwriter Ross Cooper astonishes with this emotional yet comforting traveler's tune.

Behind every great country artist is a song about hitting the road. Johnny Cash has “I’ve Been Everywhere”, Merle Haggard has “White Line Fever”, and, of course, Willie Nelson has “On the Road Again” under his hat. In a sense, Nashville’s Ross Cooper is following tradition with “Lady of the Highway”. Meanwhile, the cowboy-turned-music artist is carving his path forward on the Americana circuit.

Sonically, Cooper doesn’t ramble like Cash’s road anthem, nor does he really intend to soar like Willie Nelson. He doesn’t quite trudge through the swamps either. “Lady of the Highway” is a brisk, but mellow and an emotional, but comforting tune with a heart all its own. Cooper shows his storyteller’s chops off on the track here beside his ability to front a band. It’s no wonder why many are pegging him as one of the top dogs in Nashville to look out for these days.

It doesn’t hurt that the song was produced brilliantly by Nashville icon Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert, Rayland Baxter), either. Additionally, it’s a co-write with Jordan Lehning and Andrew Combs, both of whom have been known for prolific contributions to the Americana circle themselves throughout the years. The premiere of “Lady of the Highway” predates the release of Cooper’s upcoming album, I Rode the Wild Horses, coming 9 March 2018.

We chatted with Cooper about “Lady of the Highway” in a brief Q&A…

What is “Lady of the Highway” about?

I love highway songs and always wanted to write one. Cutting out and hitting the road can be the best kind of freedom. “Lady of the Highway” is about those long hours of driving. The 11th hour. When you’ve been awake for way too long, and you’re trying everything you can to not drift off. It’s about asking for a little bit of protection; someone to watch over you and keep you out of the ditch. It’s pretty self-reflective. Travelling comes with the territory, and there have been times where we should’ve pulled off and got some rest.

Who or what were some influences when it came to writing “Lady of the Highway”?

I co-wrote “Lady of the Highway” with Jordan Lehning and Andrew Combs, and we all brought something different to the table. As far as influence goes, for me, I wanted to capture all of the late night drives traveling to gigs or rodeos. It’s a “driving through the desert at night with the windows down” type of song.

Any cool, funny, or interesting stories from writing/recording this one?

It started with margaritas. We all met at a Mexican restaurant in East Nashville before our co-write, ordered some margaritas, etc. There for a second I honestly wondered if we were going to write anything at all. When we did sit down to write, we knocked it out in probably an hour. Everyone was on the same page, and it’s unreal how great those guys are. It was a fun write.