Rooted in Country: Brent Cobb on Kris Kristofferson’s ‘To Beat the Devil’

Don VanCleave

Brent Cobb has been making waves with his authentic and incredibly well-crafted brand of Southern-inspired country music. He first showed off his talents as a solo artist earlier this year with “Down Home,” a spirited track featured on Southern Family. The star-studded concept album was the brainchild of his cousin and renowned producer Dave Cobb, who is known for his work with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton.

Now, Brent is gearing up for the highly-anticipated release of his major label debut, Shine on Rainy Day. The record, also produced by Dave Cobb, features an array of intimate story-songs that show off his immeasurable talents. From the haunting “Black Crow” to the fleeting snapshot feel of “Solving Problems,” there’s a distinct ability to describe life in all its chaos that’s usually found in those artists we simply call “the legends.”

The Georgia native first made waves a songwriter, penning tracks for artists like Luke Bryan, David Nail and Kellie Pickler. After officially making the move to the Music City in 2008, he worked hard at honing his own sound. During those early days, Cobb says he found inspiration in the classics.

“The day I moved to Nashville, I went to Ernest Tubb Record Shop and bought two box-sets. One was King of The Road: The Genius Of Roger Miller; the other was The Essential Kris Kristofferson,” Cobb tells Wide Open Country. “The second song on Kris’s [album] was “To Beat the Devil.” There I was in Nashville, fresh off the bus, walking the same streets and talking the same conversations Kris sang about in a song he wrote forty years earlier.”

“I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do as an artist,” Cobb explains. “I wanted to write and perform songs that captured a moment in time that would never age.”

“To Beat the Devil” is a story-song written about Kristofferson’s encounter with a “great and wasted friend” inside a recording studio. That man was Johnny Cash, deep in the depths of an addiction to drugs and alcohol. In the song’s intro, Kristofferson dedicates the song to Johnny and his wife June, who he credits with saving his life. Ironically, Cash would record a cover of the song himself just months later for his 1970 album Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.

It’s a powerful and intricately written track that tells the story of a musician just trying to be heard. Although Kristofferson has penned dozens if not hundreds of incredible tunes, “To Beat the Devil” certainly stands among the best.

Shine on Rainy Day is set for release on Oct. 7 via Low Country Sound. Later this month, Brent Cobb will hit the road as support for fellow Southern Family contributor Anderson East. You can find a full list of upcoming tour dates via his official Facebook page.

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Rooted in Country: Brent Cobb on Kris Kristofferson’s ‘To Beat the Devil’