Friday Song: “My Maria”

A 1973 hit that was a retread of a hit that should have been the writer's, covered again by Brooks & Dunn

Friday Song: “My Maria”

In February 1973, B.W. Stevenson released a song written by composer Daniel Moore entitled, “Shambala.” It started to move up the charts, but two weeks later, Three Dog Night released a version of the same song. Their version went to #3, while Stevenson’s never rose above #66.

Frustrated, Stevenson and Moore got together and rewrote “Shambala,” changing the lyrics to become an ode to a beautiful woman, and giving the song the title, “My Maria.” The ploy worked. Also released in 1973, “My Maria” reached #9 on the charts, and became Stevenson’s biggest hit.

The partnership led to confusion over who wrote the song, with Moore the credited writer, while Stevenson was often given credit — an assumption he joked later he sometimes forgot to correct.

In 1996, country duo Brooks & Dunn released their cover of the song. It reached #1 on the Country charts, was named “Country Song of the Year” by Billboard, and won the 1997 Grammy for “Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.”

Dunn was initially reluctant to cut the song because of “that falsetto thing.” His first whack at it didn’t reassure, but Brooks — who knew he could do it — urged him to give the vocal another shot. Dunn found the right way in to the falsetto yodel, and the result is excellent.

Moore, who is credited as the song’s sole writer, says he’s earned far more from this cover than for any previous versions

The original sold 950,000 singles. Brooks & Dunn’s version has sold over 6 million. The original version got about 1,500,000 US radio performances. The Brooks & Dunn version is over 6,500,000 US radio performances and still going.

This wouldn’t be the last time Moore benefited from a Country cover of one of his songs — in 2011, Toby Keith had a minor hit with his live cover of “Shambala.’