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The ultimate heresy

Country Musings by Robert Loy, December 2001

I own every album Garth Brooks ever released - and I paid for 'em too, they're not review copies. At one time I wanted "The Dance" to be played at my funeral. (That was before Sept. 11th; now I'd prefer to entertain my mourners with "Hey, Mister Taliban" or "Bend Over, bin Laden") I've never made it through that song "The Change" with its transcendent lyrics about bravery and selflessness in the face of impossible odds, without goose bumps or a lump in my throat or both.

I'm establishing my credentials her because I'm about to commit the ultimate heresy.

Here goes: Garth Brooks is really not a great singer.

Wait, wait! Put those poison pens down. Hear me out. Yes, he's sold more records than Elvis, The Beatles, Slim Whitman and God put together, and part of the reason is because they're full of great songs. Garth knows a good song when he hears one. (Or he used to at any rate, "Wrapped Up in You" certainly doesn't qualify.)

But, as Waylon Jennings has pointed out, Garth sings like Mister Eustace Charleton Haney, the crooked peddler on "Green Acres."

And it doesn't matter because we decided on April 12th 1989, when his first album came out that, we loved this man, and we were going to take him to our bosom and keep him there. Garth seemed so humble and so much in love with his wife. And even after we discovered he was neither of those things, we still loved him.

Our feelings didn't change even when our boy went temporarily insane and thought he was an bad-haircutted Australian named Chris Gaines. (Whatever became of Gaines, mate? Wasn't there going to be a movie and a whole new line of t-shirts and lunch boxes? Very few of the dozens of Garth websites even mention Mr. Gaines.) Even after his umpteenth retirement. (And supposedly his new album will be his last; if you believe that I've got some beachfront property in Cheyenne to sell you.) Even though he sounds like he wants to sell us something cheap and possibly stolen off the back of his rickety wagon, we love the man.

But he's not a great singer. That's all I'm saying.

All right, now you can get out those poison pens.