Garth Brooks by Garth Brooks
25 Jul 2022
Growing up in the 80s, I mostly listened to pop music day and night. My childhood was defined by names like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith - anything they played on pop radio. As the 90s rolled in, I found myself interested in a genre I'd never thought I'd enjoy, Country music. With that I would discover one of the greatest country artists in music history, Garth Brooks. His passion and dedication he put not only into his songs, but his live performances was truly a spectacle for the ages. While he has many memorable hits, I often wondered how good his albums really were. That's why I'm going to review them all from the beginning, and we start with his self titled debut album from 1989, Garth Brooks.
This album does have three of his hit songs and we will get to them in due time, but what I like to do if possible is go song by song, front to back, and see how they hold up overall.
We kick it off with one of my favorite songs that never made radio waves in Not Counting You. It's a nicely medium paced sad song about a guy trying to get past a heartache. It also has a great honky-tonk dance sound with the fiddles and the guitar that makes it a fun song and a good start to the album. Next up is I Had A Good Thing Going. It's one of those classic stlye country songs that you would hear a lot of in the 80s and 90s country catalog. Nothing too special but still a great song. We then get to the first hit song from Garth Brooks, If Tomorrow Never Comes. This is one of the reasons why I'm a big fan of Garth. The lyrics are simple but very powerful. Basically the song ponders the idea "If tomorrow never comes, did you do all you could to let the loved ones in your life know how you really feel.." It's definitely a wonderful song and it really makes you think. Every Time That It Rains is next and it's a cute little story about one magical night at a roadside cafe. He sings about how being stuck inside an airport on a flight delay due to rain reminds him of that one night and we actually get closure to the story as he adds that the lady he made that memory with that one night decides just to be friends and that whatever happened that night was no longer there. We then get another good story song with Alabama Clay. This song is about a farmer's son who grew tired of the farm as a kid, grew up and went to live in the city to be in charge of a factory. He then sees an old photo and decides to move back to the farm to carry on the family legacy. Another good story and another good song. Halfway done and this album sounds pretty dang good.
Now it's time for the second of the three hit songs, Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old). Although this song is an homage to the life of a truck driver and the life he leads, I also consider this the middle aged anthem because I seem to say that almost all the time. Nonetheless another classic song that never gets old. Next up we go back to the great storytelling with the song Cowboy Bill. This song is about a weathered old cowboy and the many tales he would tell the children about his life on the trails. The parents saw him as just some crazy old man, but to the kids he was a hero. Another amazing story with a bittersweet ending that will leave you happy and sad at the same time.. We follow that song with a nice country bluesy/swingy song called Nobody Gets Off In This Town. It's pretty much a fun song about a boring one horse town that's so bland, nobody wants to live there. When your high school colors are brown, yeah that's probably a pretty boring town. Fun song. We then get I Know One, a song about a guy so caught up in a lady, he's willing to be the fool to come back to her after all the bad. Not a bad song. It pretty much keeps with the themes of the album about that fool in love. And now, to finish up the album, Garth Brooks' mega hit and probably the biggest song he's ever recorded, The Dance.. If you've ever seen the music video to this song, you know it had several different meanings. That beautiful piano solo to start the song. The powerful lyrics sung with nothing more than a guitar as a melody. The emotion he gives out about loss, reflecting on all the memories you had with that loved one that's no longer there, the disbelief that's it all over but knowing that "I could've missed the pain, but I would have to miss the dance." Truly a remarkable song and a great end to his debut album.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoy this album a lot. The big three hits were a great addition and spread out perfectly throughout the album. His story songs were great and I always say if you can close your eyes and visualize the lyrics being sung, it is a great song. There really were no bad songs on here, there were a few okay songs but at least they had good melodies. Overall I give this album 9/10. This was the first time I listened to this album in full, but if this was the first I heard from him back then, then I would have been sold on him as a superstar. Thankfully he went on to be a mega star both in country and pop music so I look forward to the next installment.
Thank you for reading the first of many reviews as I look back at every Garth Brooks album ever.. I look foward to reviewing these any many more to come down the road.