The Reason Garth Brooks Left Track 13 Blank on New “Fun” Album

Garth Brooks released his latest album Fun on November 20th, and though not previously mentioned or accounted for in any of the verbiage or press releases preceding the album, the work included 15 tracks as opposed to the 14 that had been promised. The reason for the discrepancy was a track at the 13th spot that included two seconds of dead air, and no obvious explanation for it.

“For some reason, there’s a empty, 2-second track at #13,” Saving Country Music pointed out the review of the album. “Is Garth superstitious? Is he trying to put some distance between a sentimental song in ‘Where The Cross Don’t Burn’ and a fun track in ‘Party Gras’? Either way, that’s not how it’s done. You let the earlier track run longer at the end…”

A discussion soon ensued in the comments section for the reason for the missing track, with many giving Garth’s superstition credit for skipping track #13. After all, he has shown some superstition in the past, naming his 1997 album Sevens, for example. He also didn’t include songs at the 13th track positions of his Double Live album from 1998. Instead, they featured six seconds of crowd noise. Though superstition seemed like a plausible explanation, there are other Garth records where he did include a 13th track, including his comeback record, 2014’s Man Against Machine.

But superstition was not the culprit, as we find out now. As Garth explained in his Inside Studio G session on Facebook on November 23rd, it had to do with setting the right mood.

“It’s not like I’m superstitious, knock on wood,”
said Garth, knocking on his head. “You know, they say superstition is the lack of faith. For me, I don’t think it hurts to have both … What I wanted after ‘Where The Cross Don’t Burn,’ I wanted four or five seconds of just silence to kinda absorb what that song said, and [Track 13] having to play for two or three seconds to register for the computers and then move on to [Track] 14. It all fell perfectly together.”

So as was surmised in the Fun review, it was to let the sentiment of “Where The Cross Don’t Burn” linger, and to not create a jarring moment when you had a very sentimental song, and then a very boisterous one afterwards. Though the practice of leaving a few extra seconds on the end of a more sentimental track to allow it to sink in is very common in sequencing an album, inserting a blank track isn’t. Another more conventional option would have simply been to rearrange the track list so you don’t have such a contrast between two songs.

Fun was the first album Garth Brooks produced by himself. The combination of producer Allen Reynolds and engineer Mark Miller were behind all of the big Garth Brooks releases from the 90’s and 00’s. When Garth came out of retirement, producer Allen Reynolds had gone into retirement, so Mark Miller stepped into the producer spot. Then Miller exited before production on Fun began.

Though a very minor point, including a blank track at #13 is a good way to point out the unusual approach to Garth’s Fun record. Though the album includes some quality songs, some of the mixing and mastering issues, taking over 2 1/2 years to be released, and the strange approach to Track #13 speak to a few of the rookie mistakes Garth the producer made on the new record.

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