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Unanswered Prayers

Dear Garth Brooks,
There was a time when you were one of the biggest entertainers in the world. Not just in country music, but you were an icon. Your name was up there on the pop charts with Yanni, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Celine Dion. It was all because you had that incredible run of chart-topping albums and singles starting back in 1989.

As a weekly reader of the Billboard charts when I was a teenager, I was very aware of this throughout the 1990s. And I was also aware of your music even though my ears were more attuned to Nirvana, Metallica, and Green Day. Whether it was a Boy Scout trip or a family trip, I heard "Friends in Low Places," "The Dance," "The Thunder Rolls," and "Rodeo" many, many times. I even played along on one Boy Scout trip and sang along with "Friends in Low Places." Most other times I scowled, moaned, and ultimately, put up with hearing your music on endless roads.

I never hated you, but your music was overplayed. That's not your fault. I blame the record label, the radio stations, and CMT. My sister couldn't get enough of your music. Nor could the rest of the country.

Alas, this is all a memory because your career seems to be a footnote in modern day.

Signing that exclusive deal with Walmart made you a lot of money, but that deal has ultimately turned into an extremely limited and divisive issue for consumers. Walmarts I've been to in the past couple of years have a row (yes, one row) devoted to CDs, and I rarely see your CDs or box sets. (And, as of this writing, your CDs are out of stock on Walmart.com.) Your music is not available in any digital music store. Even worse, your music isn't even officially on YouTube (though that great cover of "Hard Luck Woman" with KISS is still around). And it's not available on Spotify either.

What gives, Garth? Do you want to really go the route of Chris Gaines and disappear? You've had a great run of shows in Las Vegas, but your audience was so much bigger than one town. You've seen your daughters grow up. You've had a great married life with Trisha.

But come on, I want you to be relevant to the generation that's growing up quickly these days. You know, the ones you have mastered computers by age five, send texts and never make phone calls, and like Red Dirt Country. I'm more than happy to introduce my nieces (hell, even my own children to give them a bit of a musical history lesson) to your music someday. You just need to make your material more widely available.

If we've learned anything from the Internet age, people like a lot of choices instead of one choice. So, come back into that spotlight, Garth. There's still some space for you.

Best,

-Eric

Comments

Anthony Hopper said…
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one's view), the music industry seems to favor especially high turnover in artists. They are a hit one day and an also-ran the next.

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