One the most important figures in modern country music, superproducer Dave Cobb has earned nine Grammys through his work with iconic artists such as Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell. He’s based out of Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A, where Willie recorded in the late sixties, and he’s serious about keeping things old-school. No matter how innovative a project may be (see Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music), Cobb insists the process itself be grounded in the past: live takes of flesh-and-blood musicians watching, listening, and reacting to one another.

(Read a transcript of this episode below.)

He holds up Willie’s 1975 classic, Red Headed Stranger, as an inarguable example of why that works so well, citing it as one of his own biggest influences. On this week’s episode, Cobb discusses “Time of the Preacher,” the overture/aria that frames the Old West, revenge-and-redemption concept album, describing how it invites listeners into the record—and what a nervy departure it was from the country music of the time. From there he gets into Pink Floyd, Dolly Parton, the true definition of “outlaw,” and the most important instrument an artist can take into the studio: a belief in themself.

We’ve created an Apple Music playlist for this series that we’ll add to with each episode we publish. And if you like the show, please subscribe and drop us a rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

One by Willie is produced and engineered by Brian Standefer, with audio editing by Jackie Ibarra and production by Patrick Michels. Our executive producer is Megan Creydt. Graphic design is by Emily Kimbro and Victoria Millner.


John Spong (voice-over): Hey there, I’m John Spong with Texas Monthly magazine, and this is One by Willie, a podcast in which I talk each week to one notable Willie Nelson fan about one Willie song that they really love. The show is brought to you by Still Austin craft whiskey.

This week, we wrap up season four of the podcast with Nashville superproducer Dave Cobb. He’s a nine-time Grammy winner, best known for working with the true artists in modern country music—singer-songwriters like Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell—and he’s going to get into Willie’s 1975 breakthrough album, Red Headed Stranger, and specifically its opening track, “Time of the Preacher.”

He’s an extremely cool guy to get to talk to about that record. For most of us, Red Headed Stranger is an Old West myth about revenge and redemption. But for Dave, an old-school obsessive who works out of the historic RCA Studio A where Willie recorded in the sixties, it’s a study in how to make a lot with a little, and how the most important instrument an artist takes into the studio is a belief in themselves. With brief cameo appearances by Pink Floyd, Brian Wilson, Dolly Parton . . . and the late John Prine.

So let’s do it.

John Spong: Well, then, the first question is always, What’s so cool about “Time of the Preacher”?

Dave Cobb: You know what’s so cool about it? I think at a time, and much like parallels in Nashville over and over again, there was a way to make a record, and you had to do x, y, and z to be a commercial artist. You had to do x, y, and z to be on TV or radio. And that record is none of those things. That record is somebody going, like, “You know what? I’m going to do it my way.” If you listen to that record, it is so raw. There’s really not even reverb on it.

And you can tell . . . I’d spoken to Mickey Raphael, who plays harmonica on it, about how they did it. They said they were almost touching each other in the studio, just right next to each other, and didn’t have headphones on. They could hear each other. It was much like they were hanging out with their buddies, just practicing. That’s why I love that record so much. It feels very tangible. It’s one of the greatest examples of [when] there’s no window between the artist and the listener. That’s why I like that record.

And I think it is definitely one of those records that were influential to me, because I felt like not only did he get away with it, but he got away with it in spades. The record is iconic, and I think that was . . . maybe Stardust and that record were the two primary breakout records for Willie, in a lot of ways. I think it gave an artist permission to be as raw as possible, and there’s very few records in history that you’re able to do that.

So anyway, I copy it all the time. Because I like the feeling of a not heavily produced record. I like the feeling of—I always love records before they’re mixed, if that makes any sense. If people understand how record making happens, you obviously pick the songs, you may work on the songs, you go in the studio, you record them. Then you have somebody, at the end of it, put it all together, and puts lots of effects and disguise all the mistakes. I always love records that don’t do that to a certain extent. That record certainly doesn’t cover up anything. There’s no trickery there. It’s just Willie Nelson in his purest, I think, and the musicians.

John Spong: Well, it’s interesting when you mentioned Stardust; those are the two—they’re just two of the nerviest records ever made, in terms of telling the label “This is what’s going to happen” and it being unexpected compared to whatever had gone before. But then, and especially from this point in time, they’re so familiar, but they’re the quietest records you’ve ever heard. They’re the most beautiful, subtle, soft, magical little things. And they were also these hugely courageous statements in their way.

Dave Cobb: I have a feeling about that. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day [about] how I like when a record pulls you into it, as opposed to pushing you away. I think there’s so many records that just push you away. Not only just a volume thing, but just the way the artist sings, or the way the production is done on it, where there’s so much going on that you’re forced to pay attention. Whereas on some of these records, and those two in particular, and a lot of Willie records, you have to really listen. And I think it makes you fall in love with Willie more, or the artist more, because you’re investing in that. You’re not forced to listen to it. You’re investing yourself to listen to it. I think that’s a magical thing with record making that doesn’t happen all the time. But when it does, it’s perfect for me.

John Spong: So since this is the first track on the record, and it sets up the whole thing, it’s the invitation to that. Let’s listen to it real quick.

Dave Cobb: All right.

[Willie Nelson singing “Time of the Preacher”]

John Spong: So we talked about the production part of it, and the creative statement part of it, but when you listen to it just as a song, what do you hear? Are there lines in there that jumped out at you?

Dave Cobb: Really, it’s more that it’s a concept, a whole concept album. And I love the fact . . . I always love Pink Floyd and how the themes come over and over and over again, back in the records. And obviously the Beatles before that. I love that. I love that it’s a concept record. Again, it’s somebody giving you artistic freedom to just go to an imaginary world. That’s what that record is to me. You know what I mean? It’s an imaginary world. It’s almost like you are watching a landscape, as opposed to just hearing a song. That’s so beautiful about that.

John Spong: I’ve seen you say in places that “cinematic records” turn you on, which is another—well, that’s what you just said, “landscape” and “concept.” One of the things that gets me about this is, if I’ve read right—so Willie needs to make a record, and he’s got this song that he’s always loved, “Red Headed Stranger,” which is the third murder in this story. But wonderfully, when he was a DJ in Fort Worth in the fifties, that was a song he would sing.

Dave Cobb: That’s crazy. I didn’t know that.

John Spong: In the afternoon, because, like, housewives cleaning and listening to him on the radio—that was to get their kids to sleep. It was a lullaby for kids, which is just a wonderfully Willie . . . Of course, his lullabies are violent murder ballads.

Dave Cobb: Yeah. Well, “Blue Eyes Cry in the Rain,” I mean, that’s a lullaby too, right?

John Spong: Yeah, yes.

Dave Cobb: That’s a song that commercially lives outside of a concept record, which is really . . . You could hear that one song and go, “I don’t know what the record’s about, but this is a great song,” and get with it. It doesn’t take a deep dive to get that song immediately. You know what I mean?

John Spong: Right. That’s what Willie does with this. He wants to make a concept about this . . . based around this one song. So he backfills, he creates a story of why the guy was so upset, and having a cheating wife and the killing there. And then “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is her funeral, and then the second thing happens. And then the second half of the album is redemption. But this “Time of the Preacher,” it’s the theme. It’s like a little bit overture, a little bit aria, something like that.

Dave Cobb: No, it is.

John Spong: It keeps coming in.

Dave Cobb: Which is really clever. I think that’s really endearing, and it definitely brings you back. I think maybe it’s that song that really makes it a concept album.

John Spong: Yeah. Yeah. The way in “Blue Rock Montana,” that song on there, which he does before “Blue Eyes Crying,” that’s where he kills his wife and her lover . . . he closes that with the chorus to “Red Headed Stranger,” that “Don’t cross him, don’t boss him.” It’s like Brian Wilson’s Smile or something. There’s these callbacks . . .

Dave Cobb: Oh, a hundred percent. “Heroes and Villains.” Yeah, it’s all that stuff. You’re exactly right. I mean, I would be the wrong person to go in detail with Willie Nelson lyrics, because he’s so far ahead of the world with lyric writing and mastery with his pen.

But I hear it as this fantasy musical landscape, too. And it’s so simple. It’s so raw. And that’s what’s so cool about it. I mean, there is nothing, there’s no trickery. You know, in a world where if you listen to Willie Nelson when he was in Nashville, there’s tons of reverb, and that stuff is really amazing too. I mean, there’s tons of different things, kind of making a landscape. But the landscape on this, it’s just the barren thing. It almost feels like you’re in the desert. You know what I mean?

John Spong: Yeah. Somebody even wrote that. I saw a review somewhere. “The deliberately spare arrangements echoed the Stranger’s existential loneliness.”

Dave Cobb: That person’s way smarter than me, yeah. That’s a much better way to say—I just said it sounds cool. That’s pretty much it.

John Spong: Well, one thing that I’ve learned in getting ready to talk to you about this that I hadn’t known before—this was released on, I think, May twenty-sixth, 1975. And so to give a sense of how radical that quiet sound was, a big single released that day is . . .

[Glen Campbell singing “Rhinestone Cowboy”]

Dave Cobb: Oh wow.

John Spong: Yeah. How do I . . .

Dave Cobb: Which, I love this song too.

John Spong: Oh, I absolutely love this song.

Dave Cobb: I’m a big Glen Campbell fan.

John Spong: I mean… This is where I meant to start it. I mean, it’s just…

Dave Cobb: Love it. I love that song too.

John Spong: It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard. Completely, honestly. But it’s just weird. And that was number one, all that summer, and then when it leaves the charts, or drops from number one, in mid-[September], “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is, [three weeks] later, the number one song.

Dave Cobb: Incredible.

John Spong: This is not how it worked back then. This is not what anybody expected.

Dave Cobb: Yeah, I mean, I’ve read stuff—and again, I wasn’t there. I was one year old when this record came out, but I’d read that this is the record that cemented him as an outlaw. And I really think it is pretty against the grain as possible to make something like that, a piece of work like that, at that time. Because you’re coming out of the late sixties, and it’s reverb central, and there’s production central and big strings and orchestra. Willie certainly had that on some of his earlier records, and this is the antithesis of the early records, in my opinion.

[Willie Nelson singing “Time of the Preacher”]

John Spong: Yeah. Well, talk about, if you would—’cause you’re not in your home studio, but your home studio is the famous RCA Studio A. And Willie, I’ve never been able to figure out—How much did he cut in Studio A and how much in Studio B? And, I guess, maybe for people that aren’t as up on it, what’s Studio A?

Dave Cobb: RCA Studio A is in Nashville, Tennessee, ironically, right next to RCA Studio B, where pretty much was . . . RCA Studio B and the Quonset Hut were probably the premier studios in Nashville until RCA Studio A was built. And it was built at the time when record budgets were healthy and they discovered the countrypolitan sound. And I would say Willie probably had something to do with the countrypolitan because he wrote “Crazy,” and Patsy Cline covered that, and it became such a popular song. And lots of other ones too. The big string arrangements and the choirs that they built RCA Studio A to be able to put everybody in one room, because all the studios before that were a little smaller, and that was built to make everything happen at once.

So a lot of people recorded at Studio A. A lot of big songs recorded there—“Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” by Dolly, recorded the same session there. I think Eddy Arnold, “Make the World Go Away.” Willie recorded there. I’m not sure . . . there’s pictures all over the studio of Willie being there, and I’m not sure what records he’d done there, but he had these really great Star Trek glasses on. I’ve been trying to find those glasses. He looks so cool. And then there’s pictures of him wearing kind of a Nehru-cut jacket. It looks like he’s a priest. So he had a cool look back then too, before the long hair and before the beard and all that. He was cool then too. But I’m not sure what he’d done in there. I know a few things, for certain.

John Spong: But it’s like, so, the studio’s built by Chet Atkins?

Dave Cobb: Chet Atkins. Yeah, that’s right.

John Spong: Yeah. And Chet’s Willie’s producer, and he runs Nashville, right?

Dave Cobb: Right, RCA.

John Spong: RCA Nashville. But it’s weird because in Austin, or in later Willie fans, a lot of times in the folklore, Chet gets referred to almost as a villain. Like, he was the guy that kept Willie from being Willie by putting these big sounds on everything. I don’t agree with that at all.

Dave Cobb: Man, I don’t know the half of it. I wasn’t there, unfortunately. But I do know in that same building, that’s where they put the Wanted! The Outlaws record together, from different other people’s albums, Waylon and Jessi Colter, and they put all that together. And I think that’s probably a defining moment where the outlaw scene took off. Again, I wasn’t there. These are all people telling me stories, but I know he was around there a lot. There’s a lot of pictures of Willie in there, and I know Waylon did things like “[Only] Daddy [That’ll] Walk the Line,” things like that in Studio A. And I know that whole crew was hanging out. Shel Silverstein, they were all in that building. There’s pictures of all of them hanging out in there at the time. 

And so I think it was a gathering place in Nashville. As a matter of fact, one of the people who helped save the studio and bought the building, they had an archivist, and the archivist, she found lots of pictures, and there was more pictures of parties than there were sessions. So I think it was a big party hangout, and I think Chet was certainly a focal point or one of the focal points of Nashville. So I’m not sure what—I think obviously he cared about Willie. I mean, he wouldn’t sign him to a label if he didn’t think he had the wherewithal to do something.

John Spong: Well, it’s interesting. From what I’ve read, Chet loved him like everybody in Nashville did. He was such an incredible songwriter, and he was just a lot of fun to be around by all accounts, too. And so Chet really wanted it to work, but it sounds like he couldn’t ever quite figure out how to. And I read something yesterday—Chet, he said, “I could make music, but I couldn’t market at all. And so I could never figure out how to sell Willie. But we tried everything we could to package him.” Are any of those sixties records things that you’ve spent a lot . . . [are] Willie’s sixties RCA records things that you spent a lot of time listening to?

Dave Cobb: It was definitely more of the seventies stuff. I mean, it was tough picking between “Time of the Preacher” and “Shotgun Willie.” Because I love the country funk aspect of “Shotgun Willie” a lot. I mean, that was a really big, impressionable thing for me—just, it’s almost like he’s having a conversation with his buddies goofing around. And the funk is so strong on that track. I love that. So I was always more attracted to that kind of country.

[Willie Nelson singing “Shotgun Willie”] 

Dave Cobb: I mean, I appreciate the stuff before, but it was really the rawer country, the rock-and-roll overtone to country, that I really responded to, if that makes any sense. It was always the drier, the more ragged it was, the more I liked it.

John Spong: And that makes sense, because one of the . . . I’ve always wondered, because I love listening to those sixties RCA records, and they’re not all countrypolitan.

Dave Cobb: No, no, it’s not. So true. But I love listening to—“Adios Amigo” . . . What’s his name?

John Spong: Oh, Jim Reeves.

Dave Cobb: Jim Reeves. I love that. To me, that’s a beautiful sound too. I’m not smart enough to get that sound or do it, but I love the landscape that has, and that’s the big, beautiful reverb and whistling and reverb and all that, the strings. And I love that sound too. But it’s that dirty kind of raw stuff that I really responded to. Obviously Waylon was huge for me, but just that it sounds like they just stayed up for four days and made a record and mixed it at the same time, didn’t think twice about it.

John Spong: And then got done. With Shotgun Willie, creative control seems to have been the key to all of it. Because once Willie hit, he did start doing big, sweeping, poppy-type stuff, but it was when he was in charge. And so Shotgun Willie‘s the first thing he recorded with his own band.

Dave Cobb: Well, can you imagine, like, anybody in A&R hearing that the first time. “Shotgun Willie running around in his underwear,” and stuff. It’s like, they must have been like, “What is going on?” It’s a very—pretty stiff era of record making, and he’s just talking trash. And I love that about that song.

John Spong: Yeah. And then this one, he goes into the studio in Garland and yeah, like you said, they’re just in there for two or three days. Like Mickey said, they’re just sitting in a circle, and it’s just Willie left to his own designs, and nobody getting in the way.

Dave Cobb: Well, you were talking about him using his own band. I think Willie, one thing that’s really special about him, he’s got his own unique timing. The way he delivers vocals, the way he plays guitar. It’s his own timing. And I think maybe when there was a bigger band earlier, you didn’t get to see that as much. It was more him falling into the background. But when it’s in the foreground, and people are playing to him . . . the fact there’s a snare drum onstage only, and the band is kind of pared down, I think that’s when he really shines. He’s leading, as opposed to the band being the leaders and him being part of it. He’s more the focal thing. And I like that about him playing with his band.

John Spong: And the weird timing isn’t an idiosyncrasy, it’s what they do every night. So that they can follow, I’m guessing, follow a little easier. When you get—you’ve recorded with Pig Robbins and some of those old A-Teamers; did they by chance ever talk . . . when they come back into that old studio? Does Willie come up? Do they remember those days?

Dave Cobb: Man, those guys, they played on so many records. I have no idea. I mean, I heard a lot of funny stories about lots of stuff that I can’t repeat on air, but it seems like those guys have way more fun than our current generation of record makers have, or artists. I mean, I think it was the Wild West, and I certainly think Nashville at the time in the sixties, seventies, fifties, maybe all the way to the eighties . . . they were kind of the redheaded stepchild of the music industry, to a huge respect. I feel like I was told that country records were cheaper to buy. You could buy a country record cheaper than you could buy a rock record at the time. And I think maybe people weren’t myopically paying attention to them making records.

So I feel like they kind of got away with murder in a lot of respects at that time. And I feel like the only people that were really paying attention was the artists themselves, to a certain degree, on a more national level. And I think that’s when the records are great.

And then all of a sudden maybe there was a time when it was, “Okay, now this is starting to happen, and we’ve got to make sure these artists turn in commercially viable records.” And maybe that’s when it wasn’t quite as fun. I mean, there are great records in every era of country music, including today. But those records, I think they were kind of in their own little club that nobody was watching them in a bigger scale. And I think that’s when the art really thrives and nobody’s really angling and trying to force you into a box.

John Spong: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Once country albums start selling tens of millions of copies, it seems like it all happened . . . well, SoundScan and then Garth, and it is just this completely different deal because the stakes are so much higher.

Dave Cobb: Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. I think it would’ve been a blast to be making records in Nashville or Texas or wherever, country records, in early seventies. I think that must’ve been probably the sweet spot of music for me.

John Spong: Getting away with lot. But then, of course, Willie turns this one in, Red Headed Stranger in, and they think it’s demos, and “Where are we going to put the rest of the instruments on here?”

Dave Cobb: Yeah, I’ve only read—again, I mean, the only person I know that was there was Mickey Raphael. And I did hear that they thought it was demos and thought, “These are good demos. I can’t wait to record the record.” I’m so glad they didn’t go back and redo it. I think it was contentious, right? But he kind of was like, “I’m going to walk if you don’t put this out the way I want.” Is that the truth?

John Spong: He’s like, “We’ve just negotiated the contract. You guys don’t have anything to say about it.” I read that they sent it to Billy Sherrill to listen to over the weekend and figure out what he thought. And I love Billy Sherrill records. This is not one of those. But Willie was like, “It’s just too bad, y’all.”

Dave Cobb: Yeah, I don’t know, man. I know that . . . Was it a soft release when it came out too? Is that—soft release, meaning there wasn’t a whole lot of effort put behind it and then kind of caught steam on its own—is that how it worked?

John Spong: Yeah, it took—and it was because “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is such, as you said earlier, it’s just an undeniable song, and it actually does in a way live outside the album. But because that started taking off, the record went with it. And I bet so many people were not . . . I mean, like you said earlier, concept album, you can listen to this on so many different levels, right? And so when people picked it up, they were like, “Oh, wow.” Because the record reviews didn’t start showing up until August or September.

Dave Cobb: That’s crazy. I think why I connect with Red Headed Stranger is I grew up Pentecostal, and I think what Willie’s doing on that record, chordally, is not that different than a hymn in church. It’s very, very similar. The very hymnal overtone to “Red Headed Stranger”—the song “Red Headed Stranger”—to “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” It doesn’t sound that much different in the church. I’m certain, probably, that had something to do with factoring in him as well, musically, growing up at some point. But I hear that. I think that’s why there’s such a connection for me to that. Because it’s not that different than a Pentecostal church. Maybe you don’t get together after church and eat lunch or swap dishes, but other than that, the music is very similar.

John Spong: Well, and there are those churches in which the preachers don’t seem quite as human as the one in this one does.

Dave Cobb: Yeah. That’s true.

[Willie Nelson singing “Time of the Preacher”]

John Spong: So many of the artists that you work with, the countryer artists get referred to as “Nashville outsiders,” or “country music outsiders,” and there’s always a comparison to outlaws. Can you help me understand that? Why does it get harkened back to—do you think people do that?

Dave Cobb: You mean people playing country music?

John Spong: No, no, no, people—

Dave Cobb: No. I mean, they’re getting . . . I don’t know, man. Maybe because . . . I’ll blame everything, my whole career, I’ll blame it on Shooter Jennings. Shooter Jennings and I cut a record together in L.A., and we were both really into rock stuff, and we wound up going in the studio and making this record. And it kind of reacted. And that was my first real entry into this sound. Because I grew up super Pentecostal, and I would sneak some rock records here and there, but the country music that we heard that did make it through, was probably the biggest of the big. Meaning the super eighties, polished stuff. And I didn’t get that growing up. I didn’t understand that music. It didn’t resonate [with] me. It was my parents’ music. Not that it was bad, it just was my parents’ music, in a lot of ways. And hearing the right records through Shooter, I think I immediately connected with it.

Because I’m like, “Man, this is the same thing I like about the Rolling Stones. The same thing I like about the Beatles.” It just was this raw thing. After Shooter . . . he introduced me to a whole world, and I owe him a lot; I owe a lot of my career to him. And I certainly wound up probably moving to Nashville because of him. And it just seemed like it was a lot of like-minded people by accident that all liked similar aspects of all those great records. And I think we maybe carry that into the records we were making, not that we were copying or whatever. We were just really attracted to that simplicity. And so I think if anybody gets compared to that stuff, it’s only because we’re all… we’re all kin, musically. And I think that’s kind of distilled to the records.

John Spong: When people—there’s multiple ideas out there, I guess, of what “outlaw country” is. And—

Dave Cobb: None of us are outlaw, man.

John Spong: Yeah, exactly.

Dave Cobb: None of us are outlaw. I mean, I’m the least . . . I never got in trouble in school. I didn’t drink growing up. I never smoked a cigarette. None of us are outlaws. But I think maybe the outlaw thing was just what . . . Those guys were outlaws. And the outlaw aspect of us is probably listening to those records and thinking like, “Well, no one’s going to buy our record anyway, so we’re just going to do what we want.” Not because we were trying to have commercial success. I think commercial success with any of these artists came in a lot of ways by accident. Or because of their pure talent getting finally noticed. But the only outlaw thing we did was not try to make someone else’s record. We try to make their records.

John Spong: And I think that’s what—actually, that’s the meaningful part of the term “outlaw.” I mean, when people think . . . Steve Earle talked about it once—it’s like, it’s not about doing drugs. It’s not about shooting the finger at somebody. It’s not about being angry. It’s about creative control. But beyond that even, creative control to the end of creative integrity. You make it for yourself. And that’s what you guys are doing.

Dave Cobb: Well, we had creative control because nobody was looking. I mean, nobody was asking. Nobody was—nobody was worried about us. I mean, certainly we were on a radar that nobody was paying attention to. And certainly there was nobody coming down and going, “You can’t do this.” We weren’t fighting against anybody because nobody was even aware that this was even happening. It is like no one cared about our records. Until they did.

John Spong: And so many of these people, like Chris Stapleton, the Brandis, the Isbells, all of them—but Stapleton in particular. These are friends of Willie’s. These are acolytes in a sense. What do they say about Willie? Does Willie come up in the studio?

Dave Cobb: I mean, I would say that probably most of the artists I work with—if you ask them who’s their favorite songwriter, it’s Willie.

John Spong: Really?

Dave Cobb: So I think, yeah, that’s a pretty common denominator. And I can’t speak for anybody in specifics, but I can tell you almost everyone says Willie Nelson. If you’re a songwriter—and I think Nashville’s probably the Alamo of songwriters, to a certain degree, or at least songwriters trying to be just a songwriter only for profession—I think most people would probably say Willie.

John Spong: Wow. Yeah. When you listen to these artists, to what they’re doing, where do you hear his influence? Or do you?

Dave Cobb: I mean, it’s kind of one of those things where if it’s a really good song, then I hear his influence. I mean, honestly, some of it’s that simple. Not that he’s the only guy everybody’s referencing, because so many great writers, Lennon and McCartney, and Waylon and John Prine and all these people—there’s a lot of great references. But certainly, I would say with even Prine, probably, there’s a little Willie Nelson in there. I think it’s just—it goes back to that classic songwriter thing. And I think a good song is a good song is a good song. And certainly he’s one of the best at doing it.

[Willie Nelson singing “Time of the Preacher”] 

John Spong (voice-over): All right, Willie fans. That was Dave Cobb talking Red Headed Stranger and its opening track, “Time of the Preacher.” A huge thanks to him for coming on the show, a big thanks to our sponsor, Still Austin craft whiskey, and a big thanks to you for tuning in. If you dig the show, please subscribe, maybe tell a couple friends, and visit our page at Apple Podcasts and give us some stars. And please also check out our One by Willie playlist at Apple Music.

Oh, and as I said at the open, that’s a wrap on season four of the show. So in addition to Dave and Still Austin, let me give a big thanks to every guest we’ve had on the show this summer and let you know that after a short break, we’ll be back with more One by Willie this fall. Thanks so much for listening in.