Garth Brooks Still Chafes About Irish Concert Limits as He Signs to Sony/RCA

He's Making His Past Music Available Digitally for the First Time but Only on His Website

Garth Brooks used his Thursday (July 10) Nashville press conference — which was set up to announce his signing to Sony/RCA Records — to continue pressuring the city council in Dublin to allow him to do the five shows originally scheduled there for the end of this month.

So far, the council has granted permission for only three shows, which prompted Brooks to cancel all five rather than disappoint approximately 160,000 of the 400,000 ticket holders.

Brooks also revealed he’s finally allowing his music to be sold in digital format (exclusively through the website) and is working with Ticketmaster to sell tickets for his upcoming world tour.

The digital offerings, Brooks said, will be available within “the next two to three weeks.”

His first album for Sony/RCA, he said, will be released in November. It is being produced by Mark Miller, who engineered his earlier albums, and will feature the same musicians who played on those records.

Alluding to his upcoming tour, the dates and cities of which have not been declared, Brooks told the crowd of reporters, “I hope we give you a show that makes you forget what we did in the ’90s.”

In voicing his displeasure and frustration at the stalemate in Dublin, Brooks was careful to say nothing but good about Ireland and its people.

“I’ve never been treated as less than a king in Ireland,” he said. “Up to 10 days ago, it was nothing but love.”

Two reporters from Ireland asked him questions about the brouhaha, and he assured them he was open to any accommodation that would enable him to still do the five concerts.

“Everyone in Ireland is distraught about this … and a bit embarrassed,” a Washington-based Irish reporter told him.

“If the prime minister himself wants to talk to me,” he said, “I’ll swim, I’ll fly over, I’ll get down on my knees.”

He said repeatedly if the system wasn’t in place for handling concerts of this magnitude, then authorities should fix it — but only after he fulfilled his obligation to fans.

Stirring the pot, he described what the fans will miss if the concerts don’t go ahead. He said the video screen for the show is 255 feet wide and 20 feet tall.

“This isn’t a show that you pick up and leave,” he continued. “This thing is monstrous. … It must match the quality and the integrity of the Irish people. … I’m the real loser in this. I’m out the greatest experience in my life.”

He explained that the staging for his world tour will be different from that planned for Ireland.

Noting his closeness to the Irish people, he said he was once met by signs that said, “Garth, welcome to Ireland,” but that the ones that greeted him recently read, “Garth, welcome home.”

He said he had monthly meetings with Irish authorities to get everything in order for the shows and that at no time during the meetings was he told there was a limit to the number of shows he could stage.

Regardless of how the matter turns out, he said, “The Irish have my love forever.”

Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Entertainment, welcomed the crowd before Brooks came out and recited a list of the singer’s record-breaking achievements.

With his trademark mixture of humility and vanity, Brooks indicated that the factor that led him to sign with Sony was Morris’ persistence.

Pointing out that Morris had flown to see him twice before the deal was signed, Brooks added, “He took the time to come find me at my convenience.”

Sounding a bit miffed that it took so long for labels to seek him out, he said later, “There was plenty of opportunity for everybody to find Garth Brooks.”

His initial Sony/RCA release will be a double-length album.

“We’re cutting everything but Garth Brooks (songs) right now,” he explained. “I’m having a great time playing and writing again.”

One particular cut on the new album, he said teasingly, “might take the place of ’The Dance’ for me as my favorite song. I didn’t write it.”

Fans can expect to hear “cowboy songs, songs George Strait would have done and ’who’s that?’ songs, Brooks promised.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to