Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Brooks & Dunn, “My Maria”

“My Maria

Brooks & Dunn

Written by Daniel Moore and B.W. Stevenson


#1 (3 weeks)

May 18 – June 1, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

May 10 – May 17, 1996

A smashing cover showcases Ronnie Dunn’s vocal power.

The Road to No. 1

Brooks & Dunn closed out Waitin’ On Sundown with the top five hit “Whiskey Under the Bridge.”  Then they previewed their fourth studio album with a cover of a 70’s AM radio staple.

The No. 1

There is nothing special or innovative about Brooks & Dunn’s cover of B.W. Stevenson’s “My Maria.”  It has all the sonic originality of a Karaoke backing track.

But dear God, Ronnie Dunn sings the hell out of it.   By the time he’s through, he leaves a genuine classic record sounding like a publishing house demo tape.

That’s the thing about covers.  You either have to do something fresh with them or try to top the original without deviating too much from it.   The latter approach is hard to pull off.

Ronnie Dunn is one of the few singers who can do it.  By the time he’s done, it’s a Brooks & Dunn record that happens to have been recorded earlier by another artist.

The Road From No. 1

Borderline coincided with a strong run on the awards show circuit, fueled by “My Maria.”  Brooks & Dunn won Entertainer of the Year at both the ACM and CMA Awards of 1996, and repeated at the ACM ceremony in 1997.  The album will produce two more No. 1 singles during this time frame, starting with the follow up to “My Maria,” which we will cover later in 1996.

“My Maria” gets an A.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Listened to B.W. Stevenson’s 1973 original version for the first time today. Not bad – but not equal to Ronnie Dunn’s cover. (sadly BW died in 1988 at 38)

  2. I always remember my best friend’s dad, who was a not a country fan, loving this single. He bought the album and endlessly listened to “My Maria” stretched out on his living room floor with a huge pillow under his head and a pair of overstuffed headphones plugged into his stereo component system. I recall him also sharing being surprised by how many of the other songs he unexpectedly enjoyed. Even in 1986, country was still winning converts in strange corners.

    I think Ronnie Dunn was as good at proselytizing for country music as any artists of his generation. He is freakishly good on this performance.

  3. If there’s a song that screams Summer of 1996, it’s definitely this one. While this song got to be heavily overplayed in our area by the early 00’s, and I got burned out on it for a while, I’ve gotten back to enjoying it in more recent times.

    This is another song that for the longest time, I never even knew was a cover. Up until finally hearing the original in the late 00’s, I always thought it was a B&D original. I agree all the way with this version making the original sound more like a demo. There’s nothing wrong with the original, but I much prefer the higher energy and slightly faster tempo of B&D’s version. And of course, Ronnie Dunn’s performance, especially his badass falsetto singing, is unbeatable.

    This is also another song that brings me back to the days when my parents and I were going bowling pretty frequently throughout the mid 90’s. As I explained in Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country,” our local AMF bowling alley always had GAC playing out of the speakers of the entire building and the music videos showing on the monitors of vacant lanes, as well, so I got to enjoy a lot of great country music while also having fun playing. By the Summer of 1996, I was getting to be pretty good at bowling, and I would join the youth league for the first time in the Fall of that year. I remember hearing this song on quite a few occasions when my parents and I were just bowling for fun throughout the summer. It always really stood out to me because of Ronnie’s yodeling parts. Anyway, I remember one day hearing this song while I was mostly getting good marks frame by frame, and my step dad was occasionally bragging about how good I was to the people next to us who were watching me and were impressed. The thing is, while I had gotten good enough at knocking all the pins down, at eleven, I was still throwing the ball a lot slower than most people who were older than me. My step dad would sometimes tell the people next to us something like: “No matter how slow the ball rolls down the lane, the pins still come down just as hard!” LOL! The following year in 1997, I would start throwing the ball faster like the grown ups and older kids did, as well as start to develop my own technique. :)

    This was also one of the current songs I was lucky enough to record on to a tape from the radio in the Summer of ’96. It was a standard TDK tape I had actually found laying in the parking lot of the mall one day with part of the tape unraveled out of the case. Since I had actually gotten good at fixing cassette tapes by then, I just decided to take it home with me. Luckily the tape was still near the beginning, and much of it was still in pretty good shape, so I just cut the messed up parts off and started it from there. I didn’t care too much for the music that was already on it, so of course I used it to record some country. Besides “My Maria,” other songs on side A were “Party Crowd” by David Lee Murphy, “Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence, “My Heart Has A History” by Paul Brandt, “Should’ve Asked Her Faster” by Ty England, “Just Call Me Lonesome” by Radney Foster, “Whole Lotta Gone” by Joe Diffie, “Not On Your Love” by Jeff Carson, “Meant To Be” by Sammy Kershaw, “Home” by Alan Jackson, and “Carried Away” by George Strait. Side B included “Holdin’ On To Somethin'” by Jeff Carson,” “Take Me As I Am” by Faith Hill, “I Wanna Go Too Far” by Trisha Yearwood, “You Can Feel Bad” by Patty Loveless, “Guys Do It All The Time” by Mindy McCready, “Why Not Me” by The Judds, and “The Maker Said Take Her” by Alabama.

    I remember thinking I was so cool one day while listening to “My Maria” on the tape on my Walkman while in the car with my parents. I just thought it was neat that I “owned” some of these hot current songs and could listen to them whenever I wanted. Around this time, I always thought it sounded like Ronnie was saying “brain” instead of “bring” in the line “Just my thoughts about you bring back my peace of mind.” So it sounded like he was saying “brain back” in that second verse, lol. Anyway, I’ve been looking all over the house for that tape lately, and hopefully I’ll find it pretty soon! I’d love to revisit it and stroll down memory lane.

    Btw, does anyone else remember occasionally hearing this remixed version on the radio in addition to the original Borderline version? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyFK6bMVIWU I actually quite like the sound of the drums on this version and the echo in Ronnie’s falsetto parts. What made this version stand out for me as a kid was the sound of the Guiro in the background, which is an instrument I played on more than one occasion during elementary school, lol.

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