It’s basically so polarizing that I probably lost about half of you when you read that first sentence. For some reason, people really hate country music or really love it, but there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in between.
That reminds me of a Chuck Klosterman quote:
“The most wretched people in the word are those who tell you they like every kind of music ‘except country.’ People who say that are boorish and pretentious at the same time.”
I could have sworn that Klosterman also equated that opinion about country music with many people’s opinion about rap music, but I can’t seem to find that. It may have been someone else who said it, though, or I might just be imagining things. In any case, I know that Klosterman wrote an entire chapter about Garth Brooks in Eating the Dinosaur. If what I’m talking about rings a bell, let me know.
Anyhow, I personally approach country music like I approach rock, pop, rap, classical, or any other genre of music: there are some parts that I like, and some parts that I think suck. And Garth Brooks is one of the parts of country music that I like.
If you also like country music, that’s likely a “Yeah, no shit” kinda statement. He’s the best-selling country artist in the universe, I think, with over 90 billion ten-gallon hat tricks or whatever they use to monitor music sales. The point is, if you like country music, you probably like Garth Brooks.
(Quick aside: For a very short time, I dated a girl whose dad didn’t like Garth Brooks because of his song “We Shall Be Free,” which dreams of a better world when everyone lives in peace, regardless of their beliefs or heritage, and when skies and oceans are clean again. He was kind of an asshole. But then again, so was his daughter. I should have seen it coming when she said that her favorite musician was Robert Palmer.)
Anyhow, back to Garth. I only bring him up because he’d fallen off my radar around 10 years ago. However, that was the case with about 95% of pop culture. It’s probably related to moving from my twenties into my thirties, when one’s tastes have largely cemented themselves for all time, along with the fact that I literally moved to a mountain in Central America. The result of both factors was that I’ve missed a lot of American pop culture, and I didn’t even know that Garth Brooks had come out of retirement a couple years ago.
A few days ago, I saw on a deals site that his new Triple Live album was available for download on Amazon for free, so I thought I’d check it out. And I was even prepared to share that news with you, in case you felt like getting a free album for yourself as well, but it appears that in the meantime it’s gone from $0 to over $10. The following link should have the current price, but you can also check on Amazon. You never know—it just might be free again.
While that’s not very expensive for a triple album, I realize that it’s not necessarily that tempting if you don’t buy digital music. But if you have Amazon Music Unlimited or something like that, you can probably also listen to it for free.
On the whole, the album is very reminiscent of many parts of his Double Live album, but the songs are obviously different takes from different concerts. Seeing as the double one came out over 25 years ago, there are also some new songs that he apparently released since I lost track of him. The best of that group is “People Loving People,” which apparently was even a hit three or four years ago. It’s another one that, much like “We Shall Be Free,” seems surprisingly hippie-esque for a country singer:
“All the colors and the cultures circle ’round us on a spindle
It’s a complicated riddle, the solution is so simple
It’s people loving people
That’s the enemy of everything’s that’s evil”
In fact, I think I’m going to check out the album that song came from, 2014’s Man Against Machine. However, I’m still very conflicted just by looking at the cover photo:
If you like Garth Brooks, you might have already gotten this three-album set when it was offered for free a couple days ago. If so, enjoy it!
If not, I’d suggest you check it out. You might actually like what you hear. There’s still a fair dose of twangy guitar and occasionally dopey lyrics—it is still country music, after all—but you might also be surprised at Brooks’ pop sensibilities and lyrics that at times can get deeper, or at least less shallow, than you might expect from the genre.
How about you? Do you like country music? Hate it? Have you heard this album, and I managed to be the only country music fan on the planet who didn’t get the memo that Garth Brooks was back?