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February 14, 2008 4:59 PM   Subscribe

From unprecedented chart-topping, to crossover appeal, to the bizarre image change and retirement from music, he was truly country's Michael Jackson. While many of us may not have cared for his music or paid much attention to his core audience, those of us who were inspired despite ourselves by the (previously posted) Will.i.am video might just find something in the surprisingly liberal prince of the red states.

From the GLAAD Hollywood list: What's odd is that nobody assumed it could mean interracial marriages or interfaith marriages. They immediately went straight to the homosexual thing... I can't see love being a bad thing. Lust is different. But if you're in love, you've got to follow your heart and trust that God will explain to us why we sometimes fall in love with people of the same sex. Judgment Day is coming, and I ain't going to be the one standing over people up there.
posted by Navelgazer (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
And here's the will.i.am thread, for anyone who wants it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:03 PM on February 14, 2008


Also, this is a link to a much better, non-cover version of the song (final link in the FPP) if any of the admins want to help me replace it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:12 PM on February 14, 2008


I'm not sure what the point of your post is, Navel.
posted by Dizzy at 5:15 PM on February 14, 2008


Navelgazer, not to get in the way of posting to your own FPP (heh heh), but thank you so much for putting this up. It motivated me to search once again for the Live Earth acoustic performance that no one saw, and fewer people talked about.

It moved me beyond words.
posted by Kibbutz at 5:17 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dunno if this will stick around or not, Mary, but the YouTube link doesn't seem to be the main point of the post. That said, the point could be more...immediately clear? (That also said, would it really be impossible to find video of Brooks performing the song himself?)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:19 PM on February 14, 2008


...And I guess it would not!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:22 PM on February 14, 2008


I'm not trying to bring you down, or anything, but is there a reason you never mention the subject of your post? I had no idea who this was about before clicking inside, and there doesn't really seem to be a reason for the secrecy.
posted by OmieWise at 5:23 PM on February 14, 2008


Dizzy, if I have to boil it down to something, I guess it comes from the fact that I grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, primarily, surrounded by red-blooded conservatives of the type which get a lot of ire on these pages, and yet Garth Brooks was the top entertainer of that demographic, singing views which, in the particular song I linked to, would be just as much in place in a Barrack Obama speech. I myself have been living on the east coast for so long that my political hatred for my own birthplace can still sometimes reach levels of ignorance, and it helps to know that, when partisanship is stripped away, people all across the country still stand up and cheer for the same goals.

Mary: I'm sorry you didn't like it. The youtube link is, indeed crappy, but the one thing I truly don't respect about the man (who's musical genre isn't generally of my taste at all) is his inability to let his songs and albums go to any media out of his hands.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:25 PM on February 14, 2008


Navelgazer, that reminds me when I was working in broadcasting in the late nineties in Norway. His record company had been permitted to release a localized version of Garth Brooks greatest hits. But they were only allowed to sell it for three months and whatever was not sold by that time had to be destroyed under the watchful eyes of mr Brooks american attorneys. Yup. He likes to control his songs..
posted by razorian at 5:36 PM on February 14, 2008


It would be helpful if you included the name of whoever you're talking about as part of the FPP.

Simply alluding to 'country's michael jackson' is not enough for to want to explore those links.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on February 14, 2008


I was in the front row when Garth Brooks played Austin City Limits in 2000. He played for an hour as Garth, an hour as Chris Gaines (not great, but not as awful as everyone remembers) and then another hour as Garth. It was the best show I ever saw at ACL. Only about 20 of us got in, the rest was packed with VIPs. I remember that I was standing right next to Lance Armstrong at one point, and he was swaying like a teenage girl.

Garth's one hell of a showman.
posted by ColdChef at 5:41 PM on February 14, 2008


He was also fantastic on SNL in the "Old French Whore" sketch.
posted by ColdChef at 5:41 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Me four for the 'wha?' comments on the structure of the post. We've established it's about Garth Brooks. Is it also aiming to expose the MeFite audience to the idea that Mr. Brooks has expressed a Christian-but-tolerant attitude toward gay people? How does this relate to Mr. Obama?

Please don't feel beaten up - we're genuinely puzzled, and in my case, pretty much purely ignorant of the entire career of Mr. Brooks. Are you a fan? A hater? Do you know what your opinion of the man or the artist is? Try rewriting the post and directly name the artist, and directly express your opinion, and maybe we'll be less confused. Or not.

At any rate, keep trying! One fuzzy front page post by no means dooms one to a life of such.
posted by mwhybark at 5:46 PM on February 14, 2008


Right on, ColdChef. I got to see him in Tulsa in '98, at what he considered his "homecoming" show, and it was phenomenal. I was in High School at the time, and not excited at all to go, but my mom had bought a couple of extra tickets away from where she was sitting (one for me, and one for me to bring a girl along.) I asked a kind-of friend, and our tix ended up being directly in front of her own mother. In any case, it was an amazing show in Drillers' Stadium, and when he played "The Thunder Rolls, a thunderstorm erupted all around the outskirts of the staium, but seemingly not above it. One of the most chilling bits of synchronicity I've been a part of.

And yeah, he puts on a hell of a show.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:47 PM on February 14, 2008


And CC, does that mean if we find YouTubery of the show, we can find your own bad self by scrubbing the vid for Lance?
posted by mwhybark at 5:47 PM on February 14, 2008


He was also fantastic on SNL in the "Old French Whore" sketch.
posted by ColdChef at 5:41 PM on February 14 [+] [!]


Now that's the YouTube link I wanna see!
posted by maryh at 5:49 PM on February 14, 2008


So he isn't a homophobe. I'm thrilled.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:52 PM on February 14, 2008


"Country's Michael Jackson"?

Shoot me now.
posted by pompomtom at 5:55 PM on February 14, 2008


And CC, does that mean if we find YouTubery of the show, we can find your own bad self by scrubbing the vid for Lance?

You can absolutely see me in that show. I was a total camera hog. (I'm in the audience for about thirty episodes of ACL. I worked in the building next to the studio and always was able to get in.)
posted by ColdChef at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2008


Old French Whore
posted by ColdChef at 5:58 PM on February 14, 2008


Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash are the only two artists whose songs I will sing on karaoke nights.

Make of that what you will.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:02 PM on February 14, 2008


For what it's worth, I immediately got that it was Garth Brooks about two sentences into the post. My guilty lil' pleasure in college, GB: The Hits.
posted by cavalier at 6:16 PM on February 14, 2008


I don't know about anyone else, but I'm rubbed a little the wrong way by the equating of someone who is not dead-set against teh ghey with an insane pedophile.
posted by DU at 6:21 PM on February 14, 2008


I think Navelgazer just meant in terms of popularity, DU, but I must admit I was a little disappointed when I realized who he was talking about. "Country music's Michael Jackson" conjured a completely different -- and wholly unprecedented -- image for me, and I'm still a little bummed there is no such entity as I understood Navelgazer to mean.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:25 PM on February 14, 2008


OMG!! I clicked on the unknown links and blew my legs off!!!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:28 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hopefully this will be the last time I comment on my own post here (at least for a while), but let me just say that if I knew of a way to edit one's post after seeing the comments against it, I would do so. kittens has it right. And for all those who wonder why I hid the name of the artist, it's because I thought it would make the whole thing more interesting, I guess.

In any case, if it's at all possible, I'd love to stop the thread from being derailed by the formatting of the FPP.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:32 PM on February 14, 2008


For the record Cold Chef, his SNL appearance totally changed how I viewed the guy. Him dressing in drag was one of the funniest things I've ever seen on SNL.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:37 PM on February 14, 2008


The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Garth Brooks is this story, which I posted last year (with unrelated stuff snipped out):

I worked for a time at Music Millennium, a huge independent music store in Portland, OR. Garth Brooks came in one day (before my time) and demanded the store stop selling his used CDs or pay him royalties for them. Terry (owner) said, no, we have every legal right to do so. He threw a fit and stormed out of the store threatening to sue. He did this to quite a few used stores around the country, threatening to withhold new releases from them unless they stopped selling their music used. Later, Terry (and a lot of other store owners) held a barbecue in which he burned all the store's Garth Brooks catalog. Since then, the store does not sell Garth Brooks. What the idiot didn't realize is that Music Millennium has been a staple of the music community of the Pacific Northwest for a very long time. He obviously didn't understand he could have made a very good friend and promoted himself to boot. Instead, he alienated a huge part of his potential grassroots and community support, and not just in Portland, all over the country.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:48 PM on February 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Links are in the original post ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:49 PM on February 14, 2008


Brooks is also a big proponent of his fans, which drove me crazy when I bought his Live album. The reason being that he insisted on the volume of the fans in the audience being boosted to the point where they sometimes play as central a role in the album as he does.

As much as I'm not a big fan of how he's handled his marriages (like most celebrities), I do enjoy his music.


And yah...its a major misnomer to compare him to Michael Jackson. That said, the Chris Gaines persona made for an awesome setup in the otherwise "eh" Mango skits.
posted by Atreides at 6:53 PM on February 14, 2008


He's great. In another era, he would have been in a string of goofy hit movies, had a long-running and beloved television show, and later he would have hosted a popular variety hour, racking up hits all the while.

I'm generally dismissive of modern pop country, but I make an exception for Garth.
posted by padraigin at 6:54 PM on February 14, 2008


cavalier: "For what it's worth, I immediately got that it was Garth Brooks about two sentences into the post."

I could tell too -- only, the past-tense verbiage made me think this was an obit post.
posted by pineapple at 6:55 PM on February 14, 2008


I thought this was going to be a Smoky Dawson obituary.
posted by tellurian at 7:34 PM on February 14, 2008


I didn't know that about him, good for him. I love 70s country and also some of the Golden Age stuff. And also the yodeling country fad of the (I think) 30s.
posted by Falconetti at 8:04 PM on February 14, 2008


Navelgazer, I thought your post was fascinating, especially the Gaines alter-ego. Mindblowing.

I'm not a Garth Brooks fan btw, never was and never will be. But he was a cultural phenomenon at one point, and I wonder if that maybe warped his sense of self (and reality).
posted by JaySunSee at 8:09 PM on February 14, 2008


I am NOT a country fan. But, for reasons too convoluted to explain, I was at a Reba McEntire (sp?) concert where Garth Brooks was the warm-up act. He... was a great performer, and the sound (in Maple Leaf Gardens) - the quality of the voice and instruments, was fantastic.

If he wants to rest and devote time to his kids... more power to him. I wish more artists would gracefully step away from the spotlight while they're still at the top of their game. Better for us, and probably healthier for them too.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:12 PM on February 14, 2008


The above was in 1991 or so.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:13 PM on February 14, 2008


Garth brings back good memories. I was a country radio DJ (KRPT 103.7 FM, Anadarko, OK) from 1990-1994. Six hours a night, six days a week - but it was better than flipping burgers during high school.

On my 17th birthday my mother bought me this shirt from Mo'Betta (they make Garth's shirts) which is located just down the road in Apache, OK. I still have it around somewhere.
posted by mrbill at 8:42 PM on February 14, 2008


My entire family, Mom, Dad, 4 kids, my husband, friends, and my Granny all went to see Garth Brooks in Richmond, VA, years ago. We had to fight to get enough tickets as he was popular but, the ticket prices were cheap. I'm talking to the point that we thought it was incorrect information.

GB kept his prices low so more people could see his shows, and man, his performance was worth a lot more than he charged as he is the best live performer I have ever seen. Not only did he keep concert prices down, you can buy his entire catalog of music very cheaply in box sets of all the original CDs.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:50 PM on February 14, 2008


I misread it as his country's Michael Jackson, and was expecting some child-molesting androgynous Turkish disco superstar or something.

Yeah, Garth Brooks blows. He marks the point where mainstream country music became truly worthless top 40 pop with a token steel guitar bolted on. Fuckin' homunculus mongoloid.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:04 PM on February 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I love me that will.i.am video, but I'm a little disconcerted by the fact that Obama is the ugliest person on the video and the man is a stone hunk. I was never any doubt about the fact that people as genetically blessed as they are could do whatever the hell they liked. What about the rest of us? No we can't, no we can't?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:09 PM on February 14, 2008


Yeah, Garth Brooks blows. He marks the point where mainstream country music became truly worthless top 40 pop with a token steel guitar bolted on. Fuckin' homunculus mongoloid.

That just made my week right there...will you be my valentine?

posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:27 PM on February 14, 2008


Dammit, I forgot the / in the code. Oh well. You get my point.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:29 PM on February 14, 2008


I never really followed GB, but he was always good and fair to his fans, and never bilked them (well, except for Gaines, maybe). You really can't ask much more than that from any entertainer. The guy really doesn't deserve any ill will from the blowhards in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM on February 14, 2008


Yeah, Garth Brooks blows. He marks the point where mainstream country music became truly worthless top 40 pop with a token steel guitar bolted on. Fuckin' homunculus mongoloid.

All typed while wearing your ironic trucker hat on your head, the requisite Johnny Cash/Middle-Finger-In-The Camera poster on your wall and a PBR in your hand. Yeah, we get it. Now please let Bill Hicks sleep.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:06 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not a big fan of GB, but I know how monstrously popular he was at his peak. And his SNL performance was indeed pretty damn funny. The French whore skit was good, but the "Whos' More Grizzled" skit was sheer genius. Can't find a video, but the transcript is still funny. Best line is when Garth's character says, "I've buried wives, but a father should never bury a son. It was the flood of '52, we were all caught on the levee, but.. I don't want to talk about this no more." His pause after the "but" is perfect.
posted by davidmsc at 10:23 PM on February 14, 2008


Metafilter: expecting some child-molesting androgynous Turkish disco superstar
posted by Brak at 10:32 PM on February 14, 2008


That just made my week right there...will you be my valentine?

No. You're almost, but not quite, good enough.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:33 PM on February 14, 2008


I'm loving your profile, it's PURE GENIUS!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:36 PM on February 14, 2008


Yours is kind of boring.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:40 PM on February 14, 2008


At least my cat doesn't such as much as yours.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:43 PM on February 14, 2008


Drunk?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:44 PM on February 14, 2008


No, are you?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:50 PM on February 14, 2008


Beergoggles like you wouldn't believe.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:04 PM on February 14, 2008


A liberal country singer is a major shock only in the industry as we currently know it. Remember, when Garth first became a hit-maker back in the nineties, Willy Nelson and Kris Kristoferson were still fairly active. Emmylou Harris and Kenny Rogers were every bit as prominent in the pantheon as George Jones and Conway Twitty. More importantly, this is the period when country decided it was going to become mainstream once and for all. In fact, wasn't it one of Garth Brooks's albums which convinced Billboard to begin allowing country musicians to compete on the same top 10/40/100 charts as the pop and rock singers? My point here is that Garth was marketed - from nearly the beginning - as the country singer that alt-rockians, metal-heads, dance/techno consumers, and Christian Rock kids could all listen to without embarassment. And, indeed, it came to pass. Billy Ray Cyrus, Brooks & Dunn and some other acts tried to follow the same path, but I don't think anyone really nailed it the way Garth did. In any case, for a period of five to ten years, everyone thought Garth and his ilk were the future of country music.

Then, lo, and behold, something happened. I was never very clear on what, exactly. Maybe it was 9-11. Maybe it was the rise of the Red-State-And-Proud-Of-It tween/teens as a viable consumer demographic with plenty of disposable income and a kind of pathetic eagerness to embrace any and every manufactured trend that came along, provided it didn't bash Jesus or America. Whatever it was, it hit country music like a lead pipe to the forebrain. The song lyrics were dumbed down, the performers dipped in a light Jesus crispy batter and fried to a golden brown, the sound filtered through Walt Disney's frozen, embalmed gall bladder and the GI tracts of several P.R. firms, and the alcohol (for the most part) poured quickly and quietly out the back door, soaking the pants of Lyle Lovett and Willy Nelson, who were crouched there behind the trash cans, trying not to get caught smoking a doobie. Who needs songs about cheating lovers, drunken cowboys, fistfights, and horses? Now you can hear all about how wonderful it is to be married, have kids, and live in the suburbs. Country music now teaches you the value of indoctrinating your children and explains to you that we have to bomb Iraq because of 9-11.

I don't know how exactly the change came about. But somewhere, somehow, some record company execs decided they would make more money if they took all this cross-over-y, big-tenti-ish Garth Brooks type stuff, locked it up in the storage shed and instead began targeting the living fuck out of Rush Limbaugh listening, Dubya-voting, Branson, Missouri vacationing, Bible School attending, white-bread loving, SUV driving music consumers. And I suppose they must have been right.

So yeah, in today's Nashville, Garth is a freak-and-a-half. But once upon a time, he wasn't such an oddity.
posted by Clay201 at 11:38 PM on February 14, 2008 [11 favorites]


how wonderful it is to be married, have kids, and live in the suburbs

Yeah, man, that's the good stuff.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:43 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


All typed while wearing your ironic trucker hat on your head, the requisite Johnny Cash/Middle-Finger-In-The Camera poster on your wall and a PBR in your hand. Yeah, we get it. Now please let Bill Hicks sleep.

Do people like this even exist except in the fevered imaginations of people who fashionably hate "hipsters"? Hint: If you invest energy in "hating hipsters", you probably are one, whatever the fuck it even means. Staring into the abyss and all that.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:09 AM on February 15, 2008


Do people like this even exist except in the fevered imaginations of people who fashionably hate "hipsters"?

Actually, that pretty well describes a lot of folks I know. It's kinda what a lot of red state hipsters are like, except these are also the same folks that are devoting a lot of time to hating hipsters, go figure.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:59 AM on February 15, 2008


Uh . . . Garth, unlike Michael Jackson, had a No. 1 hit last fall ("More Than a Memory"), and it's still pretty much all over the radio. Not the best thing he's ever done, though not the worst.

He came out of the folkie movement, centered on the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, that revitalized country songwriting and spawned the whole country boom in the 90s. He took that kind of songwriting, which had a serious, progressive streak in the works of many other artists (like Mary Chapin Carpenter) in an odd, sort of exploitative direction--he wanted to make it something really huge, but he sort of ruined it in the process, although there were great moments like "We Shall Be Free," and "Rodeo." He was never dull, that's for sure.
posted by texorama at 5:06 AM on February 15, 2008


I am also not a fan of country music, but I love me some Garth Brooks. I am also a Chris Gaines fan (the only one, maybe?) I feel like that whole thing was mishandled. I get that by releasing the "Greatest Hits" album before the movie they were trying to promote the thing, but people Just Didn't Get It, to the point that the movie was scrapped, which made the whole experience that much more confusing.

Also, Old French Whore is one of the top five SNL skits ever ("Um, I think my whore is dead?") and Garth's dogged attempts to catch on with the San Diego Padres were a little embarrassing.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 AM on February 15, 2008


Garth Brooks is no Robbie Fulks (listen to the pickin' about four minutes in -- Garth, them barre chords? That ain't country.). I tried to find a video of Fulks doing "Roots Rock Weirdos", but alas, my google-fu fails.

I'll take Garth Brooks over Montgomery Gentry or Big & Rich any day of the week, but that's like choosing suffocation instead of being staked out over an anthill.

And if preferring Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash and Buck Owens to Garth Chris Brooks Gaines makes me a red-state hipster, then I'll wear my truckers hat with pride. Cuz I got it while driving dump trucks. For a trucking company. In a red state. While listening to Slayer (I was on a lot of drugs at the time).
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:52 AM on February 15, 2008


Uhm. So Garth Brooks is NOT gay?
posted by monospace at 9:15 AM on February 15, 2008


{{{{hugs}}}}
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:59 AM on February 15, 2008


Now they sound tired but they don't sound Haggard
They've got money but they don't have Cash
They got Junior but they don't have Hank


Amen, sisters.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:56 PM on February 15, 2008


There are still plenty of left-wingers in country music. They're mostly on the DL, or in managerial/executive positions, but they're there. Check out Rednecks & Bluenecks for details.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:58 PM on February 15, 2008


Garth Brooks is no Robbie Fulks (listen to the pickin' about four minutes in -- Garth, them barre chords? That ain't country.). I tried to find a video of Fulks doing "Roots Rock Weirdos", but alas, my google-fu fails.

That's Grant Tye on guitar. I took a lesson from him. One of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:31 PM on February 15, 2008


http://www.myspace.com/granttye
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:33 PM on February 15, 2008


Clay201 writes "don't know how exactly the change came about. But somewhere, somehow, some record company execs decided they would make more money if they took all this cross-over-y, big-tenti-ish Garth Brooks type stuff, locked it up in the storage shed and instead began targeting the living fuck out of Rush Limbaugh listening, Dubya-voting, Branson, Missouri vacationing, Bible School attending, white-bread loving, SUV driving music consumers. And I suppose they must have been right."

It's still the same pop-rock pablum with a twang that Garth Brooks popularized as "country," but more right wing.

This style of country is what Willie Nelson refers to as "big hat, no cattle."
posted by krinklyfig at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2008


I never blamed the decline of country music on Garth...the post 9/11 crap always seemed more Alan Jackson/Toby Keith oriented.

Garth, on the other hand, mmmm. Double Live, baby. I can't listen to all of it, but what I can listen to is just amazing stuff. What I would give to have a time machine take me back to Central Park in time to enjoy that concert...

When I tell people I stopped listening to country (pretty much directly after 9/11, and for all the reasons Clay 201 outlined above), I just tell them I followed the Dixie Chicks.
posted by librarylis at 12:04 AM on February 16, 2008


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