Brent Cobb may have the coolest summer job ever – opening shows across the U.S. for Chris Stapleton and Marty Stuart. During some downtime in Oregon, the Georgia native gave the Bluegrass Situation the lowdown on 11 of his favorite songs.
“Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good” – Don Williams
I woke up today singing Don Williams’ “Lord I Hope This Day is Good.” Because it just felt that way, you know? It’s just a beautiful day, I kind of want to smell the smell of hickory smoke rollin’ around in the wind. That’s also what Don Williams makes me think of, you know? We got a little somethin’ on the smoker and a little Don Williams playin’ – it’s hard to beat that.
“New South” – Hank Williams Jr.
That kind of leads into the next one, it’s sort of the same path, but Hank Jr., “New South.” It’s on his album, The New South, his first record after he fell off the mountain. Waylon Jennings, Toy Caldwell, and Marshall Tucker — they helped him produce that record. The whole album is so good, you want to sit around a campfire sound, you know? That particular song, “New South,” it also makes me want to put something on the smoker on a beautiful sunny day, pick a guitar, and maybe throw some horseshoes.
“I Wonder Do You Think of Me” – Keith Whitley
After that, I got Keith Whitley, “I Wonder Do You Think of Me.” The other night, I was sittin’ up, a lot of times when I’m on the road it’s the only time that I have to go back to my regularly scheduled writing process program. My daughter’s not out here so I don’t have to wake up at 6 o’clock every morning like I do when I’m home, so a lot of times I’ll sit up and play music and I sat up the other night till about three in the morning listening to songs. This particular one – I had forgotten about this song, I rediscovered it and listened to it about 25 times in a row the other night. It’s just so damn well-written and the chords in that song are amazing. It seems like such a simple country song, but I can’t play it. I try to pick it out.
“Leaving Trunk” – Taj Mahal
Something we listen to every night before we go on stage is Taj Mahal, “Leaving Trunk.” It’s just got that dirty south, down south, funky, country feel that I love. You can tell that the Allman Brothers were borrowing a lot from Taj. And well obviously “Statesboro Blues,” that song particularly, it’s just got that … I don’t know, it feels funky. It also would be great on a day like today, just kind of walkin’ around and have that song playin’ in your mind and be-bopping to your own beat.
“Coming Home” – Delaney & Bonnie
That makes me start thinking of other songs you could listen to, to get in the zone. So I got Delaney & Bonnie’s “Coming Home.” That’s another one we listen to before we play. I know you probably know who that is, but for those who don’t, they would have Clapton and George Harrison and folks play on their records. They influenced a lot of their peers of that time, and Dave [Cobb, Brent’s cousin] actually turned me on to that track. I’d never heard it before. Yeah, just kind of that funky country, man, gets ya goin’.
“Ohoopee River Bottomland” – Larry Jon Wilson
Which leads us into Larry Jon Wilson. Larry Jon Wilson was from Swainsboro, Georgia. He did a couple of records in the ‘70s that were super funky country. “Ohoopee River Bottomland” is the song I’m thinkin’ of. It’s also just that pre-show jam, you know? It kind of gets you down the road a little bit, and the way Larry – especially that song – would use Southern-isms or just rural-isms. He’d talk about, “this low rent land has turned to sand and I’ve done stood ’bout all I can I’m leaving…I’m leaving,” and “I got a wore-out mule and a no ‘count tractor quit now…and this is it now.” I just love the way he talks. You really capture his South Georgia background, but then he’s able to put it to some funky music.
“Play Something We Know” – Adam Hood
Alright so after Delaney and Bonnie and Larry Jon Wilson, that made me think of my buddy Adam Hood, because those are two songs that a lot of people may not know. It made me think of my friend Adam, I do a lot of writing with him. We wrote a lot of songs with this newest album of mine. He has a song called “Play Something We Know.” It’s all about hearing “play something we can sing to and play us something we know.” It’s about that guy or girl in the bar that’s slightly belligerent at your show, and they’re like “play me some ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’” You should check it out, it’s hilarious. Adam is just a great all-around artist.
“Forever Lasts Forever” – Nikki Lane
After thinking of Adam, it made me think of some other peers that I’m into, that I love, that have been good to me. Nikki Lane took us out at the top of last year and I think, in my humble opinion, she’s about the most authentic of our time. She has a song called “Forever Lasts Forever.” If you haven’t heard it, you should really check it out. It’s inspiring to listen to anything she writes, but that song is so wonderfully written. Just a wonderful breakup song, you know? Everybody loves a good breakup song.
“Hole in the Sky” – The Steel Woods
That brought me also to some other peers and also pre-show jams. The Steel Woods did a cover of Sabbath’s “Hole in the Sky.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but son of a gun… It’ll get ya goin’, man. Their whole record is great. They’re recording a new record right now. That “Hole in the Sky” song, I remember the first time I heard it, I had no idea it was an old Sabbath song. It blew my hair back, it’s incredible.
“Anyhow, I Love You” – Guy Clark
Now this is gonna take us to after-show jams….the slow jams. Made me think of Guy Clark, “Anyhow, I Love You.” Man, talk about a damn well-written song. It took me a long time to get into Guy, not because I wasn’t into him…it’s just some things you gotta live enough to really appreciate it. That was one of those songs, man, “Anyhow, I Love You.” I could listen to that one, same as “I Wonder Do You Think of Me,” over and over and over and over again.
“Open the Door” – Otis Redding
That made me think of Georgia because Guy Clark is so good at writing about Texas. It made me think of an old Georgia artist, Otis Redding. Everybody knows him. “Open the Door” by Otis Redding feels like church. It’s like being back at Antioch Baptist Church when the preacher’s talkin’ to you and then he lays it on you.
Photo credit: Don Van Cleave