“Brooks, Garth $24.96.”
That is literally all my Walmart receipt says. While everyone else was running through the aisles of the superstore looking for door-busting deals on electronics, toys and sporting goods, all I wanted was Garth Brooks’ new boxed set, Blame It All on My Roots. I resisted the temptation to buy anything else. I was on a mission to make my Black Friday a Garth Friday.
I hate to admit this, but this was my very first Black Friday experience. I guess I’d always been too busy cleaning up from Thanksgiving or preparing to transition my house to Christmas to care about all those day-after sales. Or I just didn’t care enough about Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmos.
But this? This I cared about. Not only was it the first new music Brooks has released in six long years, but it is a lot of music. There are 77 songs — mostly cover songs. When Brooks does a cover of, say, Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” or Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” or George Strait’s “Unwound,” they kind of become his own.
Plus, there’s the book. It’s like liner notes on steroids. It’s mostly about Brooks’ years playing his solo show at the Wynn in Las Vegas and how he loved playing his songs that were never singles, like “Cold Shoulder,” “Lonesome Dove” and “Ireland.” And how he grew up watching the Buck Owens Show while having dinner on a TV tray in his den, how Merle Haggard and George Jones are the definition of country music and how Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” has been in him for 99 percent of his life.
I also learned from this booklet that all the music was recorded at Allentown Studios in Nashville. And that Chris Stapleton (“What Are You Listening To”) sings harmony vocals on a few of the songs. What an honor that must’ve been for Stapleton.
But the bottom line is this: Now that I’ve been living with this music for three days, I’ve concluded that if my Black Friday had turned ugly — like 2010 Wii ugly — and I had to fight for the last copy of Brooks boxed set on the shelf, I would have. No question.