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Military experiences and a love of music combine for James Corbin, who has been playing the guitar since the age of 5.
Corbin, who grew up in a musical family, toured with the Dirt Poor Authority band a few years before going to North Georgia College and his commission into the U.S. Army. He’s a cavalry officer who has been deployed to Iraq three times.
The Army is what brought him to Fort Knox a year ago as a reconnaissance instructor. He also attended training there when he was a young lieutenant in the armor basic course.
“I’ve found that my military experience has given me a lifetime’s worth of experience to reflect on in my writing,” Corbin said.
When he first entered the Army, he had dropped music for a while, but during his second deployment, he said, he was overwhelmed with the compulsion to write.
“I was frustrated, sad about the loss of friends and hope of those around me and was missing my family, and the country music just flowed out of me,” Corbin said.
His experience resulted in 15 songs that were a diary of sorts for Corbin.
“When I returned from Iraq the third time, I went into a studio with a friend in Arizona and recorded the songs and titled the collection From Baghdad to Bisbee,” Corbin said. “It is the most honest and overwhelming collection of songs I ever wrote since all but one were written in a tent outside of Baghdad while I was living the song.”
The resulting songs were a mix of funny songs he would use to keep everyone loose and introspective ballads that Corbin said reflected the guilt he felt leaving his family for so long and the desire not to do it again.
“Due to some Dylan and Kristofferson influences, there are a few political songs expressing my frustration with the lack of patience, focus and understanding about the war I was seeing in the American public and her leaders,” Corbin said.
He’s proud of the collection and working to get the record out in the next few months. All his work is original material.
Music is Corbin’s outlet for expression.
“I can say in a song what I would be too afraid or too cool to say in the course of normal conversation,” Corbin said. “Songwriting forces me to explore the recesses of my heart and imagination and keeps me from becoming stagnant or thinking I have my junk together.”
It is a way for Corbin to comment on what he sees around him and a way to communicate feelings and observations into words, whether it be through satire, sadness, politics or joy. This is much like his influences John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Todd Snider.
The highest moments in his musical career come from the reaction of his family and friends.
“Seeing friends and family moved to tears and belly laughs when playing new songs for them,” Corbin said.
Playing a show with Kevin Kinney of Drivin ‘N’ Cryin and guitarist Phil Keaggy were also highlights for Corbin.
His goals for the future come in all three aspects of his life. He wants to be a solid, husband and father — a compassionate, wise, loving and good provider.
Corbin and his wife, Chassie, have two daughters and a son on the way. The family will be moving to Fort Benning this summer.
In his military career he wants to become a master at his craft.
As a songwriter he wants to share his music. He doesn’t have a lot of time to perform or record so, he said, he would like to pitch some songs for someone else to record.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.