Garth Brooks Sucks!
(August 11, 2002) Guess it's been awhile since the last installment of my column. Fuck it, here we go with a new one. Like my fellow Couch Pirate James, I
too hate almost everything and everyone. I did some thinking and
decided to field questions from my colleagues (and fans, should the day
come) and rant away.
The inaugural question was posed by Kevin (via a rant I recently had)
and goes as such
"Pump, you hate Toby Keith and especially Garth
Brooks (the man you say ruined country music). Why do you hate these
guys so much?"
Thank you for the question, Kevin.
My long-winded response:
Before I get into Toby and Garth, I must first give you a brief history
note or two about country music. Why, us old timers even remember when
it was known as "Country and Western." Seems from my estimation, a
gentleman by the name of Eddy Arnold is one of the chief suspects in
the virtual death of an entire genre. Actually, it never died
altogether. Real country still exists, just not anywhere near a radio
station you can pick up in Oklahoma City. KKNG 93.3 tries
occasionally, but you still have to put up with The Dixie Chicks and
Brad Paisley. I picked a gem in Denton on the way to Dallas a month
ago. It was all Johnny, Willie, Waylon, Merle and the like. Are you
going to tell me Oklahoma cannot support a REAL country station? Fuck
that. Let me start with Mr. Arnold and get into why such a phenomena
I must first tell you that as my most famous blood relative, I could
have done better. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Arnold,
and apparently Eddy is a semi-distant cousin of mine. The other
relative of note with a bit of notoriety was the man who rented John
Wilkes Booth the getaway horse used during the Lincoln assassination.
At least one of them made me proud.
Eddy Arnold began his career with the "Tennessee Plowboy" gimmick that
made him the featured attraction at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville,
Tennessee. The Ryman is where the Grand Ole Opry began in an empty
church and became the birthplace to scores of true country legends.
Arnold is regarded as the premier country artist of the late 1940's.
His most famous single, "Cattle Call," recalls the sweet daily grind of
a lonely cowpunch on the range with his herd. I really dig the
Fast forward to the late 1950's/early 1960's
Eddy now appears in a
tuxedo when performing. No more cowboy hat. Boots are a memory.
Rarely does he even play his own guitar. His focus is now on trying to
"cross over" into the pop charts to broaden his appeal. Arnold further
goes on to ask his fans to remember him as a "
just a singer, not as a
country or pops singer-just a singer." Sorry. You're Tuxedo Eddy now.
Why the Eddy Arnold diatribe? I feel that Garth Brooks also betrayed
the ghosts of Music Row. Here's what I mean.
1989. Lots of stars born this year. Clint Black. Alan Jackson.
Travis Tritt. Vince Gill. And unfortunately, Oklahoma's own Garth
Brooks. By this time, the brass in Nashville (which answers to the
bigwigs on the coasts anyway) had completely turned their back on real
music. The closest thing the Eighties saw to real music on the charts
was the supergroup, The Highwaymen. The Highwaymen's lineup was
comprised of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Blade and
Blade II's Kris Kristofferson. We also got a few Merle Haggard and
George Jones tunes early on, but they soon drifted out of the
Some of the 1989 group have garnered a bit of respect from the old
school of country music. In fact, Travis Tritt appeared on the CMT
tribute to Waylon Jennings after he died some months ago with Hank
Williams Jr. and Marty Stuart. Stuart and Tritt once toured together
on their aptly titled, "No Hats Tour." If you have seen either of the
two, neither ever appear in cowboy hats. I have to give them credit
for not wearing them since neither one are cowboys. To enjoy country
music, one does not need to be bowlegged and have a stable full of
stinky horses. Same for cowboys too I suppose.
Vince Gill seems to swing in and out of country. He seems to make
really more of an adult contemporary brand. Some of it is poppy, but
almost all of it is crap. Gill was once a member of Pure Prairie
League who had the hit, "Amie," in the 1970s. A little known fact
about Gill was that he was offered a spot in The Police by Sting that
he turned down. Gill is also a native Oklahoman who graduated from
Northwest Classen High School. He sucks ass.
Alan Jackson released a duet with George Strait entitled "Murder on
Music Row." The song details how traditional country is dead and that
one can no longer tune into anything good. I have to admit I like the
idea and message of the song, but it's a chore for me to believe
somebody who sings a song by the name of www.memory is on the side of
the old school. George Strait flat-ass sucks now himself. "Check Yes
or No." Ummm
Now we arrive at Moore, Oklahoma's own Toby Keith. What a lame-O. The
knucklehead went to Oklahoma State, yet trots around as if he is heir
apparent to David Boren at the University of Oklahoma. Not only did he
gain access to the Oklahoma sidelines at the 2001 FedEx Orange Bowl
national title game with Jim Ross (another OSU student who never went
to OU either), he then proceeded to torture the ears of the whole state
when he sang "How Do You Like Me Now?" to the poor fans who attended
the special ceremony honoring the team at Owen Field a few weeks after
their return. For sticking by the team during the Schnellenberger and
Blake years, Sooner supporters had to endure the sickening sounds of
Toby fucking Keith. The humanity
Keith began his career during the 1990's Dallas Cowboy run of success.
He penned the personally forgettable "Should've Been a Cowboy" in a
music video set to Cowboy highlights. I like the Cowboys, but fucking
hated that. It's tough enough to break into the business. He used a
gimmick with the Dallas Cowboy schtick. Hell, it was a can't miss with
all the local bandwagon fans around here. He could have used the
success from that song to begin singing real music, but of course he
chose to ignore that and proceeded to put together a string of lifeless
pop country hits and long distance phone commercials with Alf.
Commercials with Alf
What a statement. What an asshole.
Might I add the fact he considers himself an outlaw of sorts. He
doesn't live in Nashville like most artists. Instead, he remains in
the Oklahoma City metro. He'll have you believe that this keeps him
away from the industry and all the bad influences therein. He'll also
tell you since he knows about John Prine and Paul Thorn (two lesser
known singer/songwriter folkies that are undergroundesque as far as
country goes) that he is some sort of maverick intellectual. Give me a
sweet break, Toby. You sang "I Wanna Talk About Me." I hope nobody
ever has to hear that crap to see if I'm lying, but that shit would be
better suited for the demons in Purgatory to set on "repeat" and play
over and over again until I settle up even on all my earthly debts.
That with a season or two of "Survivor" ought to do it.
Funny enough though, he only had 500 people show up to his last concert
in OKC. It was the "Toby Keith Tornado Relief Jam" in 1999. He seems
mystified at the abysmal turnout. Upon asked about performing another
show in town he replied, "If it doesn't happen this time, I'm putting a
circle around Oklahoma and putting an 'X' on it and calling it home."
We can only hope.
Garth. The name sends cold chills down my spine. I would like to run
him through a gauntlet of torture similar to the Mick in "Casino" like
Joe Pesci & Crew did. You know, just watch the eyes pop right on out
as the vice goes squeezes just a li-i-i-i-i-i-ittle tighter. Garth
began with what I would label as a middle of the road brand of country,
then to a chick-flavored bit, and finally to pure pop.
His first album could probably pass for country music, even by my
standards. That doesn't mean I particularly enjoy it, mind you. It
really wasn't until his fourth album that he absolutely went over the
edge and shit the bed with me. "We Shall Be Free" is a weepy vagina
puss-puss statement about how cool it is for retarded kids to play
sports and the moral backslide of America is cool. Wanna sing this
crap? Fine. KEEP IT THE FUCK AWAY FROM NASHVILLE AND COUNTRY RADIO!!!
I could seriously keep ranting uncontrollably for another 1000 words or
so, but I need to stop before I say something that could incriminate
me. I will leave you with a few words from one of the truly great
living legends of country and western music, Buck Owens. He and Merle
Haggard are regarded as the fathers of the Bakersfield (California)
Sound. If you aren't familiar with his music, you might remember him
as Roy Clark's partner on Hee Haw some years ago. He had the red,
white, and blue guitar. He made the following statement in Music City
News in the mid-1960's. Not only is it regarded as his manifesto; it
also was an open challenge to the rest of Nashville to not lose their
"I shall sing no song that is not a country song.
I shall make no record that is not a country record.
I refuse to be known as anything, but a country singer.
I'm proud to be associated with country music.
Country music and country music fans have made me what I am today.
And I shall not forget it."
For all that is sacred and holy about the music I so dearly love, I
pray that someone hears Buck's words and takes them to heart.