Q&A: Garth Brooks on new anthology and lip syncing

Mesfin Fekadu
AP Music Writer

Garth Brooks says he’s happy to share the first of five anthologies he created with his fans while he’s still alive and kicking.

“Every artist seems to wait ‘till they’re dead, and I just don’t know how you enjoy that. Or everybody is so old that nobody can remember the stories, it just gets kind all muddied up,” he said in a recent interview. “So just to be able to do this while you’re up and running really was cool.”

Garth Brooks performs at the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 8 in Nashville.

The 55-year-old singer last week released “Garth Brooks: The Anthology Part 1 The First Five Years” (Kore). It includes a book written by Brooks, five albums — including songs never heard before — and behind-the-scenes stories focused on the years 1989-1994.

“This is kind of been the request of the people that allow me to do what I do. And they want to know every nook and cranny of how this whole thing all started,” said Brooks, who released his debut in 1989.

Brooks plans to release the other four anthologies in the next few years. He said he’s halfway through creating part two. The first one took two years to produce.

The multi-platinum singer, who is currently on his top-grossing tour, spoke with the Associated Press about the anthology, his decision to lip sync at this month’s Country Music Association Awards and more.

AP: What was going through your mind when you looked at the first five years of your career?

Brooks: To be honest I was scared because I’ve told these stories my whole career. Now I was scared that I’d have to go back and find, “Well maybe that wasn’t exactly how it happened. Maybe we were stretching the truth a little bit or whatever to make a good story.” And then what I love is you go back — there it is; there is a first take of “Much Too Young” and that whole thing of you’re looking at all these guys who know what they’re doing and you don’t know what you’re doing.

AP: What would the Garth Brooks today tell the 1989 version of Garth?

Brooks: What I’ll tell him is, “You’re just so full of (expletive), you’re scared to death and you’re running and you’re praying to God that each day you don’t kill yourself,” you know. But I think that’s all young artists. We got a kid named Mitch Rossell with us right now (on tour), sweetest kid on the planet, but … I am telling you, he’s so far in the dark simply because the greatest lessons in life cannot be taught. You have to learn them. And it’s just cool to see. So what we do to him is the same thing everybody did to me — they run alongside me with their arms trying to keep me from falling … and that’s what those guys did for me. Everyone in that book did that for me.

AP: What was it like to win entertainer of the year at the CMAs for the second year in a row?

Brooks: It was very sweet. …Everybody was saying “Hey ringer,” they were calling me ringer … “You’re a shoo-in” and I was going, “(Expletive), we’re not going to take it home this year” because everybody thinks (we will). …We’re still celebrating!

AP: You’ve performed live for years, so why did you decide to lip sync at the CMAs?

Brooks: I think I know Tacoma really well, that was five nights (of shows there) three days right before (the CMAs), it’s an indoor football stadium, so you go in there and you’re just fighting your guts out to try and reach the person that’s in the very back … it’s real physical and real demanding but very rewarding. So I knew they were going to kick my (expletive) and then I’ve got seven nights in Spokane the day after the CMAs. So the week before Tacoma while we were in Nashville we went in and did a (pre-recorded) track just for the CMAs, and then decided we’d do a game-time decision, and when it was game time it wasn’t a hard decision for me to make at all. I don’t think it’s any secret some people have a different opinion. Knowing now what I knew then, even after all this crap, if it happened the same way again next week, I’d do lip syncing again.

AP: How’s the new album coming along?

Brooks: It’s just in pieces right now. We’ve been touring so hard, so right now it’s in thoughts and pieces. We’re kind of working on the anthology, getting to work on that in your spare time.