Garth Brooks on Righting the Country Ship

And His Fear of the Empty Nest

In the latest issue of industry publication Country Aircheck, there is a long Q&A with Garth Brooks. He has a lot to say about the state of country music, and how artists can make sure the music always matters.

“I don’t know who gets credited with the saying, but the one thing that always saves country music is country music,” Brooks says.

“For a long time we thought there would be another Randy Travis type showing up, and I do think it will take someone with that heart and soul in the technology space to turn it around now. Someone who knows what buttons to push and loves music with a desire to see the ship get righted again.”

Adding to his vision of country music, Brooks said that music is always going to matter and that he prays that people will see the true heartbeat of music.

But to do that, listeners need to do more than just consume music. They should actually absorb it. “My girls can go through 30 songs in five minutes because they want to hear 10 seconds then pop it to the next one. What are they absorbing? This is where I’m going to sound like an old guy. Back in the day,” he says, “there was an investment made in the artist. There was a time taken. There was a new record coming out, you get your buddies, you’d sit around and listen to it.”

Even if you didn’t like an artist initially, he explained, you’d think, “He’s got this one song.”

“That’s what gave music a chance. It’s what gave artists a chance to build catalogs to win fans,” he said.

When the conversation turned to more personal matters, Brooks opened up about the real reason he decided to get back on the road after his daughters were all grown and flown.

“The vision was, what am I going to do when my kids are gone? My mom had a serious problem with empty nest syndrome. Alcohol became her answer and two of the greatest fights I ever saw that woman win we’re with alcohol and cancer. And it made her a hero to me,” Brooks shared. And that fear — a very real one, since the sense of loss parents feel when their childcare job is finished makes so many of them vulnerable to addiction, depression and more — is what pushed Brooks to find a new purpose in the next chapter of his life.

“My wife could see it coming at me with the children leaving. And it was her that said, ’Would you ever think about touring again?’

“I said, ’I would, but would the people?'”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.