In 1999, country singer Garth Brooks ditched his signature twang and had an unlikely top five pop hit with the R&B song “Lost in You.” Had it just been an instance of a country singer recording a crossover hit, then we probably would not think much of actor-writer-producer Donald Glover singing the song as his musical alter ego Childish Gambino during an appearance on Australian radio. But since Brooks sang the tune as his own alter ego, Chris Gaines, on an album considered his biggest commercial and critical disappointment, the story may reveal a deeper meaning behind Gambino’s cover.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Garth Brooks was my first musical hero. Looking back now, it feels a little weird saying that. I didn’t have a great love for music as a young kid. The few albums I owned when I was 10 were Beach Boys cassettes. I think I only liked them because they reminded me of being on vacation when I was stuck in a winter fog. So why Garth?
It started slowly. The songs from his self-titled first album were always on the radio. I must have heard “The Dance” a thousand times. Things cranked up a little when No Fences came out in 1990. “Friends in Low Places” was everywhere. Ropin’ the Wind took things to another level not too long after. All the kids at school in Bean Station, Tennessee were going crazy over Garth. Heck, everybody everywhere was going crazy over Garth. Rolling Stone put him on their cover; he was crossing over into the mainstream. This Is Garth Brooks played on TV, and I watched it with my dad. He was mad that Garth smashed a guitar. I was thrilled that Garth changed the words to “Friends in Low Places” and told some lady she could kiss his ass. I was in.