With rumors abounding of his coming out of retirement, many thoughts have entered into my mind as to which Garth will be returning to our radios and stages: the artist or the entertainer? The answer to that, for many of us, could lead to the greatest success his career has ever known, or add to the increasing frustration and mistrust of the product that comes out of Nashville.
I’m not going to mince words here. Most of what Nashville celebrates is trash to many of us, so much so, that most of you reading this article probably have chosen not to listen to mainstream country radio anymore. True artistry it seems has been replaced by what can generate the most profit, while attempting to make everyone happy. The truth of the matter is, there isn’t one of us who write songs who can please everyone. Besides, speaking for myself, I write to please me. Shouldn’t we all? If people like my music, then we’ve connected, but not because I tried to.
Dave Pilot and I had a conversation the other day that led to this chain of thoughts. I have always felt the same as he described it to me. Early Garth held a promise to his audience that the best was always yet to come. Unfortunately, that promise was broken when as Dave described it, “…but he went off the rails. His talent never died, but when he went for entertainment over truth, he lost his way.” Hard to argue with that statement, but is too late for the Elvis of our generation to return to the form so many of us once valued him in?
Let us also not forget that Garth’s stage shows became more about the spectacle than the music being performed, and how much of detriment it was to the industry as a whole. Is that his lasting image or could we choose to overlook that? I know nobody will ever forget the travesty (that was his greatest mistake) taking form in “metrosexual before metrosexual was cool,” Chris Gaines. Should have made the movie first dude. Can we choose to ignore this blasphemy? Yes we can. Read on.
“Much Too Young” was one the most influential songs of my teenage years. I still play the song today. As much of the audiences I play for lead the cowboy way of life, the song is still important to our culture. Even the non-cowboy fan loves this song. That was the influence the man held for the industry he dominated. Check that. Dominates. As a resident of Las Vegas, I was witness to the success of his solo show at The Wynn Hotel and Casino. The tickets for his shows for each six month period would sell out in seconds. Some ten years or so after retirement, he is still a commodity.
One line in one song launched the career of one of my heroes. Granted Chris Ledoux had earned his own following, but suddenly he was known to millions. That’s the influence I refer to. That’s the influence that could redeem him in so many of our eyes. He has the chance to fulfill the promise his music once made, and even possibly, help heal the wound that exists between mainstream and independent music…by returning to his roots. The reality is, his fan base is so loyal to him that any new music he released would be accepted. Speaking for myself, if a new album loaded with “Alabama Clays,” “Not Counting Yous,” and “Cold Shoulders” is released, I would offer forgiveness.
So here’s to you…Mr. Brooks. You have a unique opportunity few in the history of mankind have ever had. Not just redemption for yourself, but for an entire industry because, as it has time and again, they’ll follow your lead.
~ Seth Turner
Seth Turner is a full-time father of five, husband of one, college student, and singer/songwriter for Seth Turner and The High Desert Drifters. When not pursuing any of that, he is most likely sleeping or investigating the mysteries of the elusive Facebook “like.” He lives in Las Vegas, NV. You can find more information than you thought you needed to know at www.sethturner.com.
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