Garth Brooks: “I Never Thought I’d Get to Come Back”

CMA Entertainer of the Year Reacts to Latest Phase of His Career

Backstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards, Garth Brooks admitted he thought his win for entertainer of the year in 1998 would be his last.

“I kind of went numb after they called my name,” he said backstage at Wednesday’s (Nov. 2) CMA Awards. “When we left, I never thought I’d get to come back. And then you come back and you never think you’re going to win one of these again.”

Brooks now holds the record as having the most wins for entertainer of the year in the organization’s history with five.

“Awards are for younger artists,” he added. “They just are. So the older you get, the more precious they get. People think it’s the other way around … that the older you get, you know, the more ordinary it gets. We were lucky enough to have the largest tour in the world at the end of the ‘90s, which earned us two of these.

“As much as I love and respect all the other artists that are talking about their band and crew … some people may work as hard, but nobody works as hard as our band and crew so I don’t have to. I just get to go out and have fun.”

Brooks announced a retirement from the road in October 2000 to have a life at home and raise his three daughters. He announced his return in the summer of 2014 after his youngest daughter Allie graduated from high school. And when he spoke backstage Wednesday, it sounded like he has no plans of ever going back.

“If what I’m about to say makes me sound like I’m bragging, forgive me,” he said. “I’m going to try not to. One, if you can do 50 percent of what you could do in the ‘90s, be proud. To know that you’re doing 200-percent of what you did in the ‘90s and to know that Ticketmaster is telling you half of that crowd — 48 percent were not even born the last time I toured — that’s sweet.

“That’s the power of country music. That’s the power of good songs and that’s not to my credit, that’s to (record producer) Allen Reynolds credit. All those records he cut with (engineer) Mark Miller and just a love of the ride that music lets us be on, I just really love it. Everybody’s been very sweet and very respectful, which was another thing I thought that time erased, but everybody here has treated me like I’m somebody.”

Before leaving the stage, he had one last thing to say.

“I got to tell you, I miss the Chicks,” he said of the Dixie Chicks’ awards show performance earlier that night with Beyoncé. “I miss their music. I also miss the Judds tonight. I saw some of their pictures, but I would love to see mama and baby here one more time.

“But I’ve got to tell you, hats off to the CMA. They did a classy job. Whether I won this or not, I would have said that.”

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.