by Yasmine Shemesh
Elisabeth Maurus was in high school, growing up in Rock City, Illinois, the first time she heard “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks. Maurus, best known as singer-songwriter Lissie, came across a 10-second clip of the country ballad on the internet. She thought it was beautiful and listened to the little preview over and over again, until, finally, she went out and bought the CD.
“It just really represented this ideal love, of being able to be strong and certain of what you want, and finding a partner that’s your equal — someone you could build this beautiful, authentic life with,” Maurus says speaking with BeatRoute. “It stirred something up in me and this sense of longing for that.”
Maurus’s own rendition of “Cowboy Take Me Away” appears on her latest album, When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective, which features stripped-down re-imaginings of her catalog, as well as a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” With the record recalling where things all began for Maurus in her career — her striking voice — it felt right to pay homage to two of her favourite vocalists, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac) and Natalie Maines (Dixie Chicks). And now, as an adult, living on a sprawling 47-acre farm in rural Iowa where she harvests hay, “Cowboy” holds even deeper significance for the artist.
“I mean, I couldn’t really warm more to that idea of, ‘I want to touch the earth, I want to break it in my hands, I want to grow something wild and unruly,’” Maurus adds, referencing the song’s lyrics. “It’s wanting to live this sort of pastoral, nature-based life. The place that I feel most happy is when I’m out in nature. So, that song just took on even more meaning for me. And, you know, I do have a partner and he’s actually a farmer and I always joke with him, ‘This song, ‘Cowboy Take Me Away,’ this song is for you.’”
Lissie performs at Commonwealth Bar & Stage (Calgary) on Friday, Sept. 13 and at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver) on Saturday, Sept. 14Lissie, Westward Festival