In September, Garth Brooks, joined by wife Trisha Yearwood, began his first tour in 13 years. A new album, Man Against Machine, was released in November. Brooks returned to Buffalo for the first time since 1998 last night and will play five more shows over the weekend. As a longtime fan, I thought I would mark the occasion by giving my lists of Garth’s top 10 singles and top 10 album cuts. It may also be wise to study up the lyrics to assist Brooks as by Sunday he doesn’t expect to have much of his voice left as he stated in his press conference at First Niagara Center Thursday afternoon.
Singles: All #1’s unless otherwise noted
10. The Beaches of Cheyenne, from Fresh Horses
Co-written by Brooks, this is a fine example of the storytelling that country music seems to have gotten away from. Combines one of Garth’s favorite themes (rodeo and cowboys) with a ghost story.
9. Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
Brooks co-wrote this rocking track which was the first single from In Pieces in 1993. He has said it’s the toughest for him to sing live due to the fast tempo and all the lyrics. This is just a fun song elevated by Chris Leuzinger on guitar and the late Terry McMillan’s amazing harmonica playing.
8. Unanswered Prayers from No Fences
Brooks co-wrote this ballad about seeing an old girlfriend and wondering how life would’ve turned out had he stayed with her. Then he realizes what he has and how thankful he is.
7. Callin’ Baton Rouge from In Pieces
Originally recorded by both The Oak Ridge Boys and New Grass Revival, this is always a highlight of Brooks’ live shows. It hit #2 on the charts and the energy on this song is infectious.
6. The River from Ropin’ the Wind
Brooks has cited James Taylor as a major influence, even naming his first daughter after him. This song, written by Brooks and Victoria Shaw, shows that influence as much as any he’s ever recorded.
5. If Tomorrow Never Comes from Garth Brooks
Written with Kent Blazy, this was his first #1 hit. An affecting ballad about showing the ones you love how much they mean to you while you still have the chance.
4. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) from Garth Brooks
His first single, it reached #8 in 1989. Anyone who heard this when it first came out knew Brooks was someone to watch. And the mention of “a worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux” introduced the rodeo legend and independent singer to the mainstream.
3. The Thunder Rolls from No Fences
Brooks showed he was not afraid to take on serious issues such as domestic violence. The video, with an unrecognizable Brooks as the abuser, was banned by country video channels. Written with Pat Alger, this showed that Brooks was an artist who was going to do things on his terms.
2. The Dance from Garth Brooks
Written by Tony Arata, this song has come to mean different things to different people. Its award-winning video paid tribute to John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and country singer Keith Whitley. The earliest sign that Brooks was going to do things his way and differently from country artists of the past.
1. Friends in Low Places from No Fences
There are many drinking songs and sing-along songs in country music but this one stands alone. Even people who aren’t country music fans know this one and respond to it. Just the opening chords send fans into a frenzy.
If you only know the hits, here are some other songs to check out. You won’t find it on iTunes or streaming sites though. You’ll have to go through his website or the service he helped start called GhostTunes
10. Everytime that it Rains from Garth Brooks
9. Every Now and Then from The Chase
8. Belleau Wood from Sevens
7. Why Ain’t I Running from Scarecrow
6. Tacoma from Man Against Machine
5. In Lonesome Dove from Ropin’ the Wind
4. Don’t Cross the River from Scarecrow (cover of an America song)
3. Ireland from Fresh Horses
2. The Old Stuff from Fresh Horses
1. Face to Face from The Chase
Set List from March 5, 2015
First Niagara Center
Man Against Machine
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The Beaches of Cheyenne
Two Piña Coladas
Papa Loved Mama
Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
The Thunder Rolls
People Loving People
In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
Trisha Yearwood Set
XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)
How Do I Live
She’s In Love With The Boy
Callin’ Baton Rouge
Friends in Low Places
Ain’t No Sunshine
Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
Standing Outside the Fire