September 28, 2017
Garth Brooks to release five Garth books
by Chad Felix
All I can say is, it’s about time. Garth Brooks—country music icon, part-time Chris Gaines, middling baseball player, supporter of gay rights, and a pretty charming performer—is finally getting his music-filled, thunder-rolled story down on paper, according to the Associated Press.
The project, somewhat predictably entitled Anthology, will begin on November 14th with Part 1: The First Five Years. It is promised that the first book (and Brooks is promising five total — five!) will find the musician sharing “all the secrets, details” that helped shape his early career (1989-1993). According to Billboard’s Melinda Newman, in the book Brooks
tells the stories behind creating, recording and promoting his first five albums for Capitol Nashville during his rocket ride to superstardom. His memories are supplemented by others who were there, including the songwriters, musicians, and Brooks’ longtime manager, Bob Doyle.
The 240-page hardcover book includes more than 150 never-before-seen photos, as well as 5 CDs, including outtakes, first takes, demos and masters. Of the 52 songs included on the CDs, 19 are new, unreleased or demo versions.
The book also includes tracking sheets, session charts, and even Brooks’ job application for Cowtown Boots, the shoe store where he worked in Nashville while he was a struggling artist. The collection will be available through all retailers, including Target, Walmart, Amazon, Costco and Barnes & Noble, at a list price of $39.98, although it will likely get discounted to below $30.
The subsequent four volumes (four!) will chronicle the latter half of the nineties, Brooks’s live career, his retirement, his comeback, and “what was going on in the world at that time and how the music affected that and how the world affected the music.”
Books, photos, compact discs — that’s a whole lot! But it’s not all. Brooks is doing film, too. Newman reports that each volume will be followed by a two-and-a-half-hour-long documentary, presumably illuminating further the adjacent book’s stories and songs. This means that by the end of this, assuming we’re all still here, there will exist in the world a twelve-hour-long Garth Brooks documentary. And that’s… something. Good? Bad? I don’t pretend to know. The first part of the doc will be out in spring 2018.
As intense as all of this may seem, Brooks does seem legitimately thrilled to be reflecting on the music he’s made, even humbled by the task of exploring his long journey through a twangy strain of our popular culture. For example, about revisiting his first single “Much Too Young,” Brooks told Newman:
They found the first cut where Bobby Wood is on the Rhodes and not the piano and [drummer] Milt [Sledge] is on brushes, not sticks, and it sounds like a Kathy Mattea record and there I am staring at these guys scared to death because they know what they’re talking about and I don’t.
That’s pretty nice. And he has this to say about thinking about the early years:
What I love about it is our world is made up of so few people [and] we’ve all been together so long. You get to hear the voice of every one of these people…There are seven guys who played those first 50 songs in the first five years, there’s one engineer, one producer. Their voices are alive and well. They are the ones that were there every day.
My mom is going to be so happy.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.