I was at Disney World for their 20th anniversary. Everyone was there, all the television shows, lots of stars and musical acts plus all kinds of luminaries. I was supposed to interview Patti LaBelle who was sick as a dog and had to bow out. So there I was with a hole to fill.
I said to the Disney PR guy, "Who else is here?" He began with,"Garth Brooks..." Before he could go any further, I said, "Stop right there, we'll do Garth." He then said, "His people have turned down every request we've gotten."
I've known Garth a long time. You will not find a nicer, more decent person. And talk about talent--he sings like an angel, writes great songs and performing live? You have to see it to believe it. He's that good. Am I gushing? His fans know I'm not. So I send the guy off with a, "Tell him it's for Mark McEwen." He looked at me like I was crazy as he left.
When he returned, he said this," This is exactly how it went...I told them, I know you've turned everyone down but I have to tell you about every request. This one comes from Mark McEwen." He said before he could even finish, they said,"We'll do it."
Even though he was worn down from the road and had to perform that evening, within the hour Garth showed up.
That's the kind of friend he is.
I met Garth right before his second album, No Fences. There was a bit of controversy because a couple of radio deejays had sweet talked and confused his mother into giving them a copy of the first single, his huge hit, "Friends in Low Places", before it was released by the record company. They did that so they could play it first, so they could have a scoop. Now, moms are sacred ground as far as I'm concerned. I thought that was dirty pool and said so to Garth.
That was the beginning of our friendship.
One year he was at the CMA Awards, performing onstage. President George H.W. Bush was in the audience. At the end of the performance he said, "I've always loved my Georges. George Jones and George Strait." Then he realized what he'd done and said, "Sorry Mr. President!"
Everyone broke up.
At the height of his fame he retired. He wanted to spend more time at home with his young daughters, helping them by having their Dad around the house as they grew older. It's a song called, "Getting to Know You." He also had a brand new wife, country star, Trisha Yearwood, and not being on the road was a priority. He did some shows in Vegas, on the weekends, but he was pretty much a stay at home dad.
His daughters grew up and he's back on the road with a World Tour.
Two of his daughters are college age now and the third one is a senior in high school. He jokes they're happy to have him gone.
It seems like he's everywhere, TV, concerts, appearances. If he hasn't been near where you live, he's coming. He has a new album, Man Against Machine, and audiences are happy to hear the new stuff along with the huge songs they grew up with. It's great to see him so happy, so back.
At the end of the nineties he was named Artist of the Decade. To help celebrate that honor, Garth had rings made. He gave them to his Mom and Dad, his band, his crew and people from his record company.
I wear mine everyday.
Because of the 'G' insignia people ask me if I went to the University of Georgia. Like a lion in the tall grass I wait for that question.
It gives me an opportunity to say, "Nooo, Garth Brooks gave me that ring..."
And then I get to tell the story.
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