There’s a song on Garth Brooks’ brand new album Fun that I knew, just from seeing the name, that I would love. It’s track No. 12, “Where the Cross Don’t Burn.” And singing the powerful tune with Brooks is country legend Charley Pride.
I had a chance to ask Brooks how that collaboration came to be, and he told me why it was so important to him (and why it took so long).
“I’m embarrassed to tell you this story,” Brooks admitted. “But there was something on the internet that said that Charley Pride has passed away. I kicked the table, and Miss Yearwood said, ’What is wrong?!’
“And I said, ’I (expletive) it up again.’ Another thing in my life that I’ve wanted to do — a song I’ve been holding onto for ten years — and I waited. I just waited too long for my big ass to get it done. But then the next day, it came out that that was a false report. So I called Charley and (his wife) Miss Rozene that day. I said, ’Hey can we just get this done?’ So I don’t know how karma works. I don’t know how signs are. But my silver living in the misinformation highway was that it got me to do what I should’ve done ten years ago. And I thought Charley was fantastic.”
During last week’s CMA Awards, Charley Pride was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. It was part of a historical tribute to the man who broke down racial barriers with every song he sang in his 50 years of making country music. Pride was named the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Male Vocalist of the Year in 1971 and 1972.
And when Pride accepted the award that night, he did so humbly and with a list of people to thank. Brooks loved that about him, and about the producers of the CMA Awards.
“When people ask me what my favorite part of the CMAs was, it was the fact that when Charley got the Lifetime Achievement Award, they did not play him off. He broke out the sheet of paper and they were not gonna go to commercial or anything to stop him.”
You can read the rest of my interview with Brooks here.
The full track list for Fun:
1. “The Road I’m On” (Randall King, Garth Brooks)
2. “That’s What Cowboys Do” (John Martin, Mitch Rossell, Brooks)
3. “All Day Long” (Bryan Kennedy, Rossell, Brooks)
4. “Shallow” feat. Trisha Yearwood (Stefani Germanotta, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson)
5. “Dive Bar” feat. Blake Shelton (Rossell, Kennedy, Brooks)
6. “Amen” (Bobby Terry, Matt Rossi, Brooks)
7. “The Courage of Love” (Martin, Brooks)
8. “I Can Be Me With You” (Benita Hill, Amanda Colleen Williams)
9. “Message in a Bottle” (Jenny Yates, Garth Brooks)
10. “Stronger Than Me” (Rossi, Terry)
11. “(A Hard Way to Make an) Easy Livin’” (Rossi, Terry)
12. “Where the Cross Don’t Burn” feat. Charley Pride (Troy Jones, Phil Thomas)
13. “Party Gras (The Mardi Gras Song)” (Rossi, Brooks)
14. “(Sometimes You’ve Got to Die to) Live Again” (Gabe Dixon, Wayne Kirkpatrick)
Other collaborations on Fun include Brook’s duet with his wife Trisha Yearwood on “Shallow,” and his duet with Blake Shelton on “Dive Bar.”