music - No Fences - Garth Brooks
Written by Oryx
Early in the spring of 1989, a fresh-faced country boy from Oklahoma released his first album. The eponymous Garth Brooks turned out hits – ‘The Dance’, ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’, and ‘I’m Much Too Young’ – that placed Brooks atop the competitive country music landscape.
But it was his follow-up effort, No Fences, which took him to a different level. His live performances, which grew more frequent as he quickly turned out the second record, revealed not only a voice that stayed true in transfer from studio to stage, but an energy country music had never seen before.
Brooks’ shows were dynamic, boasting the kinds of pyrotechnics and lighting tricks previously reserved for the rock ‘n’ roll circuit. His nightly rope-swing out over the frenzied crowd was a declaration “this is not your parents’ country music” – a declaration made despite Brooks’ unwavering respect for those who came before him.
“I love country music. It’s my home,” Brooks has said. “I have never felt that it has slighted me. It was the format that held the ladder while I got to climb as high as I could.”
‘The Dance’ may have lit the match of stardom, but it was the first single from No Fences, a raucous bar-room anthem called ‘Friends in Low Places’, that started the wildfire. “The day that song came out is the day it all broke loose for us,” Brooks said.
The second single from the album was ‘Thunder Rolls’, a dark track about a wife’s murderous reaction to her husband’s infidelity. The video was kept off much of country music television, and the controversy served only to increase its allure, not only to the new generation of country fans willing to embrace the new edge, but to fans who didn’t know country music but found Brooks on mainstream music television.
He’s since retired, then un-retired to return to live performing, continuing a career that has left him the top-selling solo artist of all time – topping even Elvis Presley.
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