It’s easy to count the ways Garth Brooks is at the top of his game right now. He just earned his 20th No. 1 single with “Ask Me How I Know,” and his sixth CMA Entertainer of the Year award. His new memoir-and-CD combo chronicling his early career is No. 1 on sales charts, as well. And his tour has just set a new North American record with 6.4 million in ticket sales.
But don’t ask Brooks to calculate his emotions. His record-breaking tour is now coming to an end during the holiday season in his hometown of Nashville – a doubly sentimental juncture that makes it hard for him to even talk about.
“I can’t — I’ll just cry,” he said Saturday at a press conference before the first of seven concerts.
Wife Trisha Yearwood, who’s been sharing the bill on Brooks’ headlining tour, jumped in to come to her husband’s rescue. “I think we’re all emotional,” she said.
After all, the tour that was supposed to last only a year and a half has put the couple on the road for more than three. “Everybody is kind of exhausted,” Yearwood, 53, said, “but there’s such a reverence for this tour. Even those of us who aren’t criers are crying because it’s emotional.”
After appearing in close to 400 concerts, Brooks, 55, has recently taken to describing himself as “wired and tired.” He’s talked a lot about looking forward to catching up on sleep. But he’s also facing the changes that this ending will bring.
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“What I’m gonna miss the most is the way of life you’ve become accustomed to,” he said. “This is the highest I’ve ever felt. There’s nothing like this tour. I’ve never felt anything like it on stage. … So you know anything that’s that high … ” His words trailed off as he gestured a downward slope.
Of course, the tour may be ending, but Brooks will hardly be retreating. He’s already signed up to open and close RodeoHouston in February and March and to headline California’s Stagecoach Music Festival in April.
You can also expect that trips to the studio will be on his calendar; it’s been a little over a year since he released his last album, Gunslinger.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to creating music,” he said. “I had no idea that this tour would blow up like this, but it sucked all the oxygen out of everything, so you didn’t get to spend as much time in the studio as you wanted to, didn’t get to see your studio players as much as you wanted, didn’t get to see your songwriter buddies as much as you wanted to. And that’s what we moved to this town to do, so I’m going to enjoy that.”
For her part, Yearwood said she is planning studio visits, as well. “I haven’t made a new album in several years,” she said, pointing out that she’s also been splitting her time with her popular Food Network show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. “I enjoy it so much, but I just feel new music tap me on the shoulder.”
Meanwhile, Brooks is already beginning to build suspense for his next Big Thing. “Hopefully, in between here and the summer, we’ll announce what 2019 is gonna be,” he said, “and hopefully they’ll come in a pair – ’19 and ’20 – and if they do, it’s going to be something that’s going to make all of us feel like we’re 20 years old again. It’s gonna be a blast. It will be exactly what you want it to be.”
The first two of Brooks’ seven Nashville shows, at Bridgestone Arena, occurred over the weekend. He’ll perform three shows this coming weekend and close out the tour with shows on Dec. 22 and 23.