In Pieces: Getting Misty with a Lachrymose Garth Brooks at His Raleigh Press Conference | Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Friday, March 11, 2016

In Pieces: Getting Misty with a Lachrymose Garth Brooks at His Raleigh Press Conference

Posted by on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 7:03 PM

click to enlarge Garth and Trisha - PHOTO BY TINA HAVER CURRIN
  • Photo by Tina Haver Currin
  • Garth and Trisha
When Garth Brooks went on tour in the booming nineties, there was no wave of cell-phone photography to greet him from the other side of the stage. There was no Taylor Swift, so Brooks was the pop-country crossover master who pissed off the most purists. There was no President Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady, not a presidential candidate. There was no Great Dixie Chicks Controversy, where radio DJs dropped the group like a hot potato after Natalie Maines announced she was ashamed of George Bush’s Texas heritage. Back then, industry moguls didn’t debate whether or not being dropped from radio play still mattered. Of course it did. 

Brooks's last world tour came in 2003, but he didn’t venture this way then. In fact, the last time the country singer serenaded the Triangle was during a two-night session at the Dean Dome in 1998. Back then, there was no Wikipedia, no easy way to learn that Garth Brooks’ first name is actually Troyal (!) or that he signed with the New York Mets for a stint in the late nineties.

Since he had just gotten off a plane, Brooks didn’t know that Bernie Sanders was in town today, even though his three-night series at the PNC Arena and Sanders’ rally—for which folks began lining up at three in the morning—will likely be the city’s biggest traffic disruptors until the fall's State Fair.

But he did know how to use Periscope, the video-streaming site that allows users to route a live feed from their phones. A collection of fifteen reporters, plus five television crews with a militia of cameras, watched on their own phones as Brooks broadcast himself taking the elevator from the green room to the press room. “This is so exciting!” one woman said, her eyes boring into her device while the real Brooks stood only feet away.

When he arrived, the singer turned his own phone around so that his subscribers (fifty thousand of them, I later learned) could see little old us. Some watched themselves live from Brooks’ phone on their own phones. Others waved. I took a picture.

click to enlarge Periscope up! - GARTH BROOKS DID THIS ONE HIMSELF
  • Garth Brooks did this one himself
  • Periscope up!
A few hours after the Periscope experience—and after a much longer 13-year break to see his three daughters through high school—Brooks would make his first-ever headlining appearance in Raleigh tonight, his second Saturday, third Sunday. It’s the fourth leg of a massive North American tour, which he and fellow country singer (and wife) Trisha Yearwood have been on since June 2014. Brooks and Yearwood are expected to tour through 2017 before adding dates in Europe, Australia, and South America. Go big and, eventually, go home, I suppose.

Brooks arrived in a black T-shirt and blue baseball cap, sunglasses flipped upside down upon the brim. Yearwood looked youthful in dark jeans and shimmering gold high-tops, which she told me her stylist had found in New York. The pair touched often, holding an embrace before a mass of local news cameras descended for the requisite one-on-one interviews. Brooks’s go-to answer for how-are-ya? “I’m Mr. Yearwood, so I’m doing great.”

I listened to Garth Brooks as much as any Southern youngster who grew up in the nineties and feel a nostalgic attachment to his music. I learned about adultery when my mom adopted “The Thunder Rolls” as a way to heal from a straying lover, and G105’s weekend bumper of “Two Piña Coladas” bored its way into my young brain. But for a small press conference in a sterile meeting room, I wasn’t expecting such a strangely emotional experience.

A question about James Taylor made Brooks cry, and he continued to get misty-eyed throughout the Q&A. When Brooks talked about the first concert he ever attended without supervision, and to which he took his first date, he had to stop to dry his eyes.

click to enlarge The stars, walking in - PHOTO BY TINA HAVER CURRIN
  • Photo by Tina Haver Currin
  • The stars, walking in
“I was thirteen rows away from Freddie Mercury, standing in my chair,” he said. “I was screaming, but I couldn’t hear myself, because the music was so loud. That’s what it’s all about.” Then, he whispered one word: "Fantastic." 

When I asked him about endurance training for long stretches of touring, Brooks stopped the conference to ask me about running marathons. He lifted his shirt and offered his soft belly as proof that marathon running was outside of his league. He was inspired enough by the idea to look toward the heavens and issue a heartfelt "Amen."

When I asked Brooks about politics and messages within modern country music, he called the genre “pretty stable, pretty set” in its ways, but referenced Colin Powell and the notion that it’s alright to get in heated debate, as long as we respect one another (and, in the case of the presidency, the position of power) in the end.

“I’ve been at this for a long time, so I don’t have a problem saying that we should love one another,” he told me toward the end of the interview, leaning in close enough that I could make out the pattern of his chin stubble and the texture of his slate-blue eyes.

“There are hurdles put down here between us just to cause trouble," he continued. "The big question is, why are we here? It’s the simplest answer on the planet: We’re here for each other. That’s why there’s more than one of us.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music

Twitter Activity


I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

Wow! I am speechless. Skylar that was amazing! You are very talented. I love your vocal range and passion. Thank …

by Rita Romaine Rakestraw on Video Premiere: Phil Cook and Skylar Gudasz Nod to Alice Gerrard in New Tribute Clips (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation