One of the things that always amuses me anymore is a list of celebrities that went out on top of their game that includes Garth Brooks:
Following huge success throughout the 1990s and a head-scratching dalliance with an alter-ego name Chris Gaines, Brooks retired in 2000 in order to spend more time with his family. Like a lot of celebrity retirement, it didn’t last. The country superstar returned to performing in 2009.
Sounds to me as if they’re saying that Chris Gaines was where Brooks jumped the shark, and quite frankly I don’t agree with that in the slightest. I think it was quite a bit earlier —probably the point Sabra mentions here:
The beginning of the end was actually some time ago. Right around the time Garth Brooks abandoned his “worn out tape of Chris LeDoux” for “The Red Strokes” and “Standing Outside the Fire.”
Granted, she was talking about Nashville music in general going to hell, but I think the point of reference of “The Red Strokes” and “Standing Outside the Fire” works for Mr. Brooks as well. (It might well have been as early as “The River.”) I hardly think Garth Brooks went out at the top of his game, artistically or commercially. I really think he peaked with his first album and it was really all downhill from there; I’ll admit my fiery hatred of “Friends in Low Places” probably has a fair bit to do with that, but I stand by it. Granted, he didn’t really have much left to prove when he went out, but I think the fact that he felt like he had to re-record one of his earlier album tracks to get on the radio showed that he didn’t have much if anything left in the tank.
But maybe that’s just me…