Country Music Writes A Letter to Garth Brooks
Don’t think for a second that I blame you for taking a dozen-plus years off to spend time with your family, please. In fact I commend you for it. If we all spent a little more time putting family first, this probably would be a much more pleasant world to live in. Hell, don’t think the idea of dialing it all back doesn’t cross my mind every damn day, yet here I am working like a three-peckered billy goat. Do you know they say that country music is the biggest American music genre now? Ha, did you ever think we’d see that day Garth?
But this is the problem old friend. They’ve thrown the barn doors wide, and now everybody and their cousin is calling themselves country, and it’s gotten completely out of control. Be careful what you wish for, right Garth? I mean we’ve got DJ’s who don’t do anything but stand behind a couple of turntables pressing buttons now calling themselves country, rappers calling themselves country, hard rockers calling themselves country. It’s to the point now where I yearn for the days where Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift were the biggest pains in my ass. I look back now at the time when they said you were ruining the genre as the good ol’ days. By the way, do you have any idea if Waylon Jennings ever really said that line, “Garth Brooks did to country music what pantyhose did to finger $#@!ing?” Because for the life of me, I can’t verify it anywhere. And yeah, I know I just censored myself. But to some of us Garth, country music is still a family format.
I’m swallowing my pride here Garth. I need your help. Whether it was you and I pairing up in the in the 90’s to sell all those records that truly stimulated all these problems in the first place or not, the simple fact is you and I coming back together could maybe spell the end of it, or at least restoring some sort of balance to where if someone turns on their radio and tunes it to a country station, they might actually hear something that sounds like country.
I know there’s no need to pry you off you’re couch or anything; you’ve already got all the plans in the works for your big triumphant return, so this is not the direction my pleas are headed. What I want to implore you to do Garth is to keep it country. For the love of all things holy, keep it country. Please, as a favor to your old pal. Just be yourself. This is no longer about about trying to turn away the hordes who will call anything “country.” Truth is they won the battle years ago. That ship has sailed. This is about storming the gates ourselves, and taking back what is ours. You may be the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music, but as I’m sure you know Garth, country music is bigger than any one person (not to gloat, but you know…), and it is the responsibility of everyone, however big or small, to preserve and protect the country music institution, especially an artist like yourself whose benefited in the manner of untold riches from it.
They can say what they want about you Garth. There are old codgers and punks out there that will bad mouth your name no matter how the rules of the game change, and how much time redeems your past accomplishments. Actually, you want to put those critics to bed? Simply put out a true country album that is successful, and those people’s anger will turn to nostalgia and appreciation. I know deep inside of you is still that little boy from Oklahoma that grew up listening to Merle Haggard and George Jones; that appealed to the masses not by borrowing from other genres, but from finding and writing meaningful songs and singing them from the heart. Some focus on your wireless mic and your flawless, almost too-perfect presentation. But I focus in the fire in your eye, the aching moan in your voice that mimics a steel guitar the comes bursting through the mix to remind us all of the magic that country music can evoke when done right.
And you Garth, and only you, may still have the power at this late hour to remind the masses of that magic.
You did it once for the money Garth. Now, do it once for the music. Because we need it now more than ever.
Your once strained, but now rehabilitated and appreciative friend,
May 22, 2014 @ 12:42 pm
While Garth Brooks songs from any era far surpass today’s mainstream country songs in quality, it will especially be a treat if he plays up his early (late 80’s/early 90’s) style when he starts performing again.
May 22, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
It’s funny you published this today because I was just thinking the other day how it would be good to have Garth Brooks come back. Like you said, if anyone can stop this bro country madness it’s Garth Brooks. He’s got the fans and popularity to make change happen in the genre. He did it once and I hope he can do it again.
May 22, 2014 @ 1:26 pm
The success of his box-set “Blame It All On My Roots” proves he remains as viable and relevant as ever, and maintains a large-enough, loyal fanbase that can eclipse that of arguably any A-list “country” artist, with the possible exception of Taylor Swift, in this day in age.
Surely Brooks has to feel confident enough of his potential, and recognizing of it as well. And, especially when taking into account he didn’t pander one tiptoe towards the frat-country demographic with the boxed set, I’m quite optimistic he won’t pander with his official comeback in the form of new original material.
May 22, 2014 @ 2:03 pm
It’s sad when people are actually considering Garth Brooks real country. In my honest opinion he was one of the main ones to initially ruin country music. Don’t care for any country artist that dances around the stage like a rap star. I don’t want to settle on something close to country. Sorry but Garth in my opinion is and always will be trash.
May 23, 2014 @ 12:39 am
You’re absolutely right Cody. I totally agree.
May 23, 2014 @ 9:25 am
I think Garth recorded a lot of “real” country music along the way ….and a lot of trash ..yes. But I’d argue that the songs that are considered ‘career’ songs for him ( If Tomorrow Never Comes etc.. ) are as country and as significant as anything considered career songs by George or Johnny , George Strait , Alan Jackson . Garth just decided to market differently with the over-the-top shows that helped him SELL the real stuff to non-country fans . Can’t really say that for the newer acts selling s**t songs disguised as rock s**t using pyro and a banjo .
May 23, 2014 @ 11:05 am
Cody, do you know who Chris Ledoux is? I’m not saying that as a shot at you, I’m curious. If you do or don’t, you should know that Garth’s entire stage presence was influenced by Chris Ledoux. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Chris Ledoux isn”™t as hardcore country as anyone. Sure, maybe Chris dabbled with some songs that were more rock, but the dude was country to the bone, a lot more than 99% of the artists we revere.
So to suggest that Garth’s stage act was like a rap singer, is completely inaccurate.
*He also took some influence from KISS, but Garth and Chris both have been on record as to the influence of the stage act.
May 23, 2014 @ 2:21 pm
I do know Chris ledoux. He was a rodeo cowboy who should have never turned to country music. I have tried multiple times to get into his music. I just personally cant stand his voice. And yes, I do say he’s not as country as others. Country isn’t about being a cowboy or living on a ranch. Many artists like Blake Shelton say they were inspired by people like haggard. Does that make them a good artist?
May 24, 2014 @ 9:20 am
“Country isn’t about being a cowboy or living on a ranch”
So explain to us what is country about.
May 25, 2014 @ 12:13 am
Thats exactly my point. explain to me what made Ledoux such a great artist. His career story sounds like many unknown artists in Nashville now.
May 25, 2014 @ 8:30 am
Country music is about real life, and Chris Ledoux is as real as it gets. Look at a picture of Chris, see that hat that’s on his head, his hat is not a prop. Just like George Strait, his hat isn’t a prop. It’s a big part of who they are and the life they live. When I look at Nashville, to me it’s like one big ant hill with thousands of ants inside, it’s almost imposable to stand out from the rest because they are all the same as where Ledoux and Strait as well stayed on the outside of it and did they’re thing, even after becoming famous they still stayed away.
I think the reason why you cannot understand how Chris Ledoux became famous and why you never got into him is very simple. You haven’t lived the life. Until you have, you will never understand.
May 27, 2014 @ 5:36 am
Really well said. Totally agree with you on your example of a hat as a prop. I’m sure Garth would be first to admit his is a prop, but that also is a nod to being real.
I have thought about the prop thing for a long time. I am now starting to use a level of judgment on an artist by if they are wearing “props” or costumes as I call them, on stage. I.E. FGL, The Cadillac 3, Jason Aldean, etc… Compare them to a Ledoux, Strait…or guys like Lukas Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson. Those guys wear on stage what you would find them wearing the morning of the show.
I once heard Brad Paisley explain to (I think Letterman) that he wore his hat so people would know what kind of music he plays. Well, Brad, if you need a hat to explain it, you aren’t playing that kind of music.
October 28, 2014 @ 9:00 am
What you’re missing here is that Chris LeDoux never did turn to country music; rather, country music turned to him after Garth mentioned his name in his debut single.
LeDoux was a western music artist, primarily performing songs about ranch and rodeo life appreciated by those who either live or admire that lifestyle. It’s a genre of music where the vocal talent of the singer is secondary to the authenticity of the singer’s voice, which in turn is secondary to the story being told in the song. Dave Stamey is one of the biggest names in that genre today, give him a listed and you’ll find that his voice ain’t all that pretty, either. But he sounds like he’s lived what he sings about, and in western music that’s what counts.
May 24, 2014 @ 4:29 pm
Cody, I understand that this is a gray area for country music fans. Garth was not pure country. Most of the time he was not traditional country. But I think he recorded many good country songs, and on the whole his music was more country than pop. I wouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If Garth wants to record another album I would give him a chance.
At the same time I realize there is a slippery slope and everyone has their limits. If Trigger were to write an article begging Shania to come back and record another album like Come On Over to save today’s country females from themselves, then I would agree that he has lost his senses.
May 22, 2014 @ 2:05 pm
Not to sound ignorant, but can anyone fill me in on why exactly Waylon had such a problem with Garth and Billy Ray? Aside from the obvious, of course.
May 22, 2014 @ 4:52 pm
Waylon was physically sick and must have been in a lot of pain in the latter years of his life and it seemed to make him bitter and resentful toward everyone.
That and the fact that Waylon’s latter albums were really good–but didn’t sell worth a damn.
Heck, Waylon didn’t attend his own Hall of Fame induction. He even seemed to have a nasty falling-out with Willie–so much so that when Waylon died, Willie barely paid tribute to him.
May 22, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
“He even seemed to have a nasty falling-out with Willie”“so much so that when Waylon died, Willie barely paid tribute to him.”
Very sad to hear about that.
May 22, 2014 @ 2:21 pm
Search the archives, you’ll find most of your answers there.
I want to focus on Garth. I have all of his box sets and I’m anxious for something new.
May 22, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
I hope he reads this letter, he could very well decide what direction country music will take for the next decade. His website is pretty cool too, altho it’s just his logo and thunder haha.
May 22, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
I’m not surprised he could still get folks to schlep out to the local Walmart to buy the box set. The real question is whether his music can appeal to the young (think teenage) male demographic that bro-country is marketed to.
From a business perspective, he would have a really easy “in” with the bro audience by collaborating on a single with Florida George Line, who have mentioned him several times as their all-time favorite country artist. Of course, selling one’s soul to Satan can have temporary benefits as well.
May 22, 2014 @ 6:12 pm
Cody, youre a moron… garth may have been caught right at the beginning phases of country music being the garbage it is today, but he is in no way to blame.. garth brooks is country.. jumping around the stage isnt stupidity, it is called being excited and passionate about what you do.. he isnt just a singer… he is an entertainer… he pumps up the crowd with his energy… “country” isnt defined by some conway Twitty lookin mofo sittin on a stool singing AT you… country music has gone through phases… the true classics, which will never be forgotten… the horribly depressing phase when everything was sad and about lost loves… more energy and up beat songs (the early 90s) and then theres todays trash… garth brooks came at the time between numbers 2 and 3, embraced it, and MADE it… “garth brooks” and “country music” are synonymous with one another
May 22, 2014 @ 8:14 pm
Glad to hear your opinion but until you can make a point without name calling like a child I won’t respect it. I never said he is solely to blame but he is one of the main ones.realize I also said my opinion. Im sorry if my opinion hurts you. You can’t deny that Garth sung about many topics that would now be considered bro country.I can post a long list of songs to back this statement considering I was a garth fan when I was younger. He had a couple of decent songs but with his popularity the bad songs gained more traction within the industry. You can also be excited and passionate about music without putting on a circus. Jimmy Martin is a prime example. He was always energetic on stage in his prime but didn’t run circles. I am also very aware of the eras that country music has went through. Also “making” it doesnt correlate to anything about music content. By that logic kenny Cheney would be considerd one of the best. Again I’m sorry if my opinion left a bad taste in your mouth.
May 23, 2014 @ 7:12 am
Every country singer has had songs that, by today’s standards, have bro-country subject matter. This isn’t exclusive to Garth. Anyone who sang about girls, trucks, or partying fits the bro-country mold, since that’s all it is. Bro-country to existing country subject matter, weeded out everything meaningful, and beat the living shit out of it. That doesn’t mean that Waylon or Hank Jr. Didn’t have songs about the same things. In fact, Country Boy Can Survive is pretty much a wordier version of every song Colt Ford has. It isn’t the subject matter in itself, it’s how it’s presented that makes today’s country inferior.
May 23, 2014 @ 7:14 am
*Took existing subject matter
May 24, 2014 @ 4:34 pm
Yes, Garth had his frat boy side. “Friends in Low Places” and “That Summer” are part of his frat boy side. But those were much better songs than the laundry list songs recorded by today’s bro country singers about booze and sex.
And don’t forget that George Jones recorded “Beer Run” with Garth. It’s hard to find a traditional country singer who has never recorded a song about beer, girls, or trucks.
May 23, 2014 @ 2:04 am
Kap0012…”it’s called being excited and passionate about what you do…he isn’t a singer……he is an entertainer…he pumps up the crowd with energy.” Wow! You just described why FGL, Jason Aldeen, Luke Bryan etc are forced down our throats as great country artists.
You talk about country music and phases and then call today’s country crap. No reason to call it crap because it’s just another phase.
Conway, Jones, Verne, Lefty, Merle, Whitley, Loretta, Jamey, Randy they never sang “AT” you. They sang to you and their music drew you in.
May 23, 2014 @ 9:22 am
“some conway Twitty lookin mofo sittin on a stool singing AT you”
You should run out in front of a car today.
May 22, 2014 @ 6:51 pm
Garth didn’t do anything except make Garth music. He didn’t ruin anything, shitty artists with no respect for the genre did. Like him or not (I’m mixed myself) he’s just one guy, and he can’t control what these dopes are putting out now.
When he’s on, he’s on. There’s plenty in his catalog that doesn’t agree with my stomach, but oh well. Others have said it here, and I agree, any unbiased country fan will agree “Much Too Young…” is one of the best country songs of all time.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the Las Vegas show. I’m not gonna lie, hearing that powerful voice, totally on point and still full of life, really put me in a good state of pleasant nostalgia. I’ll happily give a new Garth album an honest listen.
May 22, 2014 @ 8:35 pm
You are right on, that song is as good as it gets. The thing that is frustrating about him is that we know he could have been as good as any, he can sing George Strait songs as good as George Strait and also sing like George Jones, if he gets back to that kind of music he can save us all from the douchebag period we are going through right now.
May 23, 2014 @ 6:03 am
“he can sing George Strait songs as good as George Strait and also sing like George Jones” —- Vocally, Garth Brooks is very limited. He can’t sing as good as Strait and to even compare him vocally to Jones is just stupid.
May 24, 2014 @ 9:09 am
If you listen to his new boxed set, “Blame It All On My Roots” you would hear exactly how good he is at singing Strait and Jones. It gives me chills, Awesome isn’t a strong enough word.
May 24, 2014 @ 9:31 am
Ok, I wll admit that George Jones comparison was not accurate, I got carried away with that one, but listen you are nuts if you can’t admit that Garth is unbelievably talented and is not limited vocally? I hate the guy running around stage acting like a damn fool, no argument on that, but if you watched his vegas show and didn’t think, damn that bastard can sing, then we can’t agree on anything.
June 25, 2019 @ 5:20 pm
I’ve been saying it for a long time Garth never did anything wrong he just did everything perfect I never got super huge into his music but he recorded quite a few I enjoy and for as much as the guys sold you can’t argue with those numvers
May 22, 2014 @ 8:47 pm
“But to some of us Garth, country music is still a family format.”
Classy Trig, I really appreciate that. I have a hard time letting my little nine year old brother listen to country radio, even though he loves it, just because of all the trash they play. We really need to return to a format where you’re not afraid to play country radio in front of children.
The other day my little brother came up with his own country song. I had banned from singing about beer because it upset my mother. So, his new song started out ‘sittin’ on a tailgate, drinkin’ that V8, yeah!’ Anyway, looking forward to the day when you don’t have to explain travesty’s like “Truck Yeah!” to elementary school kids!
May 23, 2014 @ 1:39 am
I don’t want Garth, Garth was a new voice with a new sound. And he had his success. I want to hear a new voice like Jones, Lefty, Whitley or Travis. To me Garth would be a re-tread trying to right his wrongs.
Think about Josh Turner singing “Long Black Train” or Jamey Johnson ” Colors.” The first time you heard their voices. It pulled you in like the great songs do. If anybody is going to turn the page let it be someone like Sturgil, or Shane Worley or Dave Jorgenson or maybe Ralph Stanley 2.
What does that say about us the keepers of the flame if Garth is “the one.” Garth in some respect broke our hearts once I would prefer not to let it happen again.
And to “Country Music” did you give up on Jamey Johnson so quickly?
May 23, 2014 @ 5:41 am
“This is no longer about about trying to turn away the hordes who will call anything “country.” Truth is they won the battle years ago. That ship has sailed. This is about storming the gates ourselves, and taking back what is ours.”
Trigger, that may be one of the best lines I’ve ever read on the subject! Mind if I use that as a Facebook status? Due credit will be given, of course.
May 23, 2014 @ 8:25 am
May 23, 2014 @ 5:48 am
A good friend of mine recently interviewed Garth for Sirrus XM; he mentioned he was heading to Kent Blazy’s for a writing session and that he had been in Allentown cutting tracks. This, to me, indicates we’re going to get ‘classic’ Garth on the new album. That makes me very happy.
TX Music Jim
May 23, 2014 @ 8:01 am
First two Garth records, to me, were stone country and excellent. Yes he can sing and sing well. Watching the Vegas show was fun only a hand full of people could with just a insturment and a voice pull of the set Garth did in Vegas. Garth has Charisma as a performer that is rare. Looking foward to the new record and hoping it’s country we will see. Garth could, at the very least, focus the wider publics attention back on what the like about more tradtional country sounds in a large enough way that it could help up and coming artists like Sturgill Simpson and others get a listen they would not otherwise get.
May 23, 2014 @ 8:06 am
I was actually thinking about this the other day when reading the article about the possible split between “classic” and contemporary. I won’t be too surprised if Garth coming back is one of the moments that triggers the change.
May 23, 2014 @ 8:11 am
If Garth comes back with a classic sounding album and it rips up the charts, you can believe the industry will follow…just like it did in the mid 90’s.
For anyone to suggest Garth ruined country is dead wrong. The industry tried to duplicate him to cash in. They did to some degree but then reality TV era hit and combination of internet technology, mass marketing, etc… all that created a perfect storm to find a formula that sells and keep trucking the same douche bag out there doing the same shit just a different name and ball cap, or no ball cap, or designer cowboy hat, or hat and sunglasses….on and on.
But Garth is an artist that can truly shake up the compass/direction of the genre. He isn’t flavor of the month, he isn’t 20something, he isn’t male model goodlooking, his draw is his entertainment and music/singing talent. Argue if it is up to Jones-type standards or guitar licks like…well Lukas Nelson, no it is not. But his draw is talent, not looks.
Garth captured many of us when we were 18. He wasn’t 20something than either. So I see no reason he can’t capture a younger crowd and at the same time the disgruntled country crowd now.
And for those that rip him for the stage antics. He stole the whole show from Chris Ledoux. You going to say Chris Ledoux isn’t country?
May 24, 2014 @ 1:57 am
He actually was a 20-something when he first attained fame, in 1989. He was born in 1962.
“Friends in Low Places”, the song that made him a superstar, was also released when he was still in his 20s.
May 23, 2014 @ 8:38 am
Hey Trigger I was thinking you should do another one of these “Country Music Writes a Letter to…” And it should be to Florida Georgia Line. But then again you would have to write it in crayon so they could read it 🙂
May 23, 2014 @ 8:50 am
It would be two words…. “GET LOST”
May 23, 2014 @ 9:53 am
I’ve read the archives.
From then ’til now, you write some friggin’ beautiful words and intelligent phrases.
May 23, 2014 @ 11:52 am
“You did it once for the money Garth. Now, do it once for the music.”
He certainly has earned a boat load of money and continues to do so. Nothing but Garth Brooks covers on YouTube and Spotify.
May 23, 2014 @ 2:00 pm
I quit listening to country music radio over 30 years ago, so I don’t know that much about Garth Brooks.
Since the last thread on him a few months ago, I have heard a few good tunes of his on Comcast’s Classic Country Music Channel.
I may pick up a Greatest Hits CD of Garth’s and check him out.
I wish the guy well, irrespective of his approach and genre, even though it may or may not be my cup of tea.
Stadium shows are generally not, but I make exceptions (Willie and Allison Krauss/Union Station are coming to town in a couple of months).
May 23, 2014 @ 3:34 pm
I would not mind a Garth Brooks come back at this point. “Friends In Low Places” is a song I do not like at all but would gladly listen to a thousand times over what the stations are playing now days. That aside I have a lot of good memories listening to his songs and if he can produce some new ones that are delivered with the energy and passion of his earlier years, I will buy it without thinking twice!
May 23, 2014 @ 4:58 pm
Why is everyone ignoring when the real problem with “country music” started? It was the day George Strait took to his Wranglers to the dry cleaners and said “extra startch please” and the it continued with those ridiculous shirts garth would wear.
May 23, 2014 @ 6:20 pm
In 20 years, we’ll be having this same discussion, but talking about Luke Bryan. Some people will defend his twerking by saying he’s just getting the crowd worked up. Then people will point to the few ballad type songs that Luke has cut, and say he is “traditional compared to what is popular.” Garth chased the dollar ruthlessly back in the day. Which is no different than what the “Bros” are doing today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
May 24, 2014 @ 1:53 am
This is a ridiculous comparison. The only important factor in judging an artist is the songs themselves, not stage antics. By that standard, Garth Brooks’s music was no less traditional than what came before him (his early output may have actually helped move country in a more traditional direction). Luke Bryan, by contrast, has served as perhaps the leader of the bro-country movement.
May 24, 2014 @ 11:36 am
“Garth Brooks”™s music was no less traditional than what came before him (his early output may have actually helped move country in a more traditional direction).”
People like you will be saying this same shit about Luke Bryan in 20 years. Some are already saying it now. Read the comments for the Billy Joe Shaver/Willie Nelson song they did together, people are already talking about how traditional Luke Bryan is. Garth sold out back in the day, but people have forgiven and embraced him now. Luke Bryan is selling out now, and will be forgiven in a few years, and all of you sheep will welcome him into the fold. History repeats itself.
May 24, 2014 @ 7:46 pm
You’re claiming things were said (and they certainly were NOT) to make a point. LB’s first two major label albums were both solidly country. People compared his musical style to that of George Strait. Not entirely accurate, but not really that far off either.
If you have to make shit up just to talk down to someone, you should reconsider saying anything at all.
May 24, 2014 @ 2:00 pm
We need Garth Brooks to come back before Florida Georgia Line creates a remix to their crappy composition “This Is How We Roll” with Jason DeRulo or appear on a remix of DeRulo’s “song” (Wiggle).
May 25, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
quote: It was the day George Strait took to his Wranglers to the dry cleaners and said “extra startch please”
Um no- Cowboys starched their jeans (and stacked the extra length so when they rode the brush wouldn’t scratch their cowhide boots) to keep them cleaner longer and to protect their legs. Not all wranglers could afford chaps and the starch was an inexpensive alternative. If you rode you would understand.
May 27, 2014 @ 5:48 am
Question: If someone makes a lot of money doing something, does it become automatic that they did it for the money?
That question is not synonymous with someone doing a specific task, endorsement, event because it was a great opportunity financially and also provided the task, endorsement, event exactly what they wanted too. Sometimes things are done for the money…but that isn’t always a negative thing.
May 28, 2014 @ 9:09 am
it takes more than one soldier to win a battle, and that’s what this is. a battle to save country music. Garth is only human so yes he’s disappointed in the past and yes his taste is gonna clash with other peoples at some time or other. the point is we can’t pin all our hopes and dreams on just one savior of the genre. we need people like Garth Brooks who already has built up a fan base, just like we need that unknown guy who will appear out of the shadows and win everyone’s hearts while singing true country music, just like we need people like Jamey who have seen huge success and are still slowly but steadily plugging along and building a following. I don’t think one person is gonna be able to be a powerhouse enough to take down all the fgl types, that’s why we need people who can bring different things to the table
February 12, 2019 @ 8:58 am
I think you’d be better off asking Willy.