Garth Brooks brought a little rock and roll to his live show and as a result fans fell in love with him. He swung from the rafters. He sprinted from one side of the stage to the other as sweat dripped down from his forehead to his bright, striped shirt. And then he would slow things down, dim the lights, and sit right next to the front row and play one of his classic ballads as the fans sang every word back to him.
Maybe that’s what really connected Garth Brooks with so many music fans across the world – his passion.
But I’m sure if you asked Garth what was able to connect him with his fans is the songs. He is a humble guy that wanted to bring as much of himself and his music to as many people as he could. And he often gives credit to the songs – the melodies and lyrics that he and others wrote. Brooks grew up during the singer-songwriter days in the ’70s and part of that influence worked into his songs and albums.
Often when we think of Garth Brooks we think of the number of albums he sold. But to many there is often one song that brings back a memory, a place, a time in a fans life that meant something special to them. Garth Brooks touched his fans with his songs.
Let’s take a look at 50 of those songs as we count down to #1…
50) The Night I Called The Old Man Out
A rocking song about a cocky kid standing up to his old man for the first time. It’s a classic story most sons and fathers go through. It’s a part of life and part of taking the step into adulthood for most guys.
49) Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy
Brooks’ career often ventured into the cowboy and rodeo world. He was a guest on this Chris LeDoux hit. The song reached the country singles top ten and introduced the influential LeDoux to the country music world in a big way. Garth was hitting his big stride at the time and he was paying tribute to the most influential person and the one Brooks credits for the way he performs live.
LeDoux was the one to blast out of the stage and Garth took that passion to his own live shows.
Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy is pure fun and entertainment. It’s a great example of the cowboy music genre.
48) The Red Strokes
Known more the video, The Red Strokes was a single that never really took off on the charts. Country fans always remember the buckets upon buckets of red paint that fell on Brooks in his white suit and his white piano.
47) One Night a Day
One Night a Day saw the range in Garth Brooks’ emotion. The song is a swooning, almost Sinatra-like groove. The song found a small place in country music probably due to the popularity of Brooks at the time. It was a bit of a stretch especially with the sax solo, but that was Garth. He tried to connect with fans in as many ways as he could.
46) Do What You Gotta Do
Towards the end of the ’90s most fans were realizing that Garth was winding down his career. He was still putting every effort into promoting his album Sevens and his live album Double Live, but we were seeing him less in public and as fans would later find out he was going through some turmoil in his marriage. Do What You Gotta Do was a later hit off of Sevens and the song is fairly forgettable among so many other standards from Garth, but it is still heard every once and awhile by hardcore fans that go through and listen to his entire albums.
45) Squeeze Me In
Garth Brooks had an infatuation with Trisha Yearwood and he always seemed to want her to really put some emotion into her singing. The two sang on a few big hits. Squeeze Me In came in the early ’00s and the song had a small impact on the country charts. The vocals have Yearwood really belting it out and Garth tries to keep up.
44) It’s Midnight Cinderella
A hit single off of Garth’s Fresh Horses album, It’s Midnight Cinderella is a catchy tune that bordered on cliche at the time. It likely had its impact on the charts due to Garth riding high at the time. The album didn’t sell as many copies as his previous albums and Garth made his frustration known to his label. Perhaps it was the songs on the collection, but a few are still heard today.
43) Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy
Garth had a spot in his heart for Christmas and he recorded a lot of the standards. Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy is probably the most played Garth Christmas song each holiday season. Brooks put a little rocking vibe into the song. Kids are able to sing along and fans still look forward to hearing it each season.
42) The Old Man’s Back In Town
Another Garth Christmas classic. This one is heard each year. Garth took a little twist on a classic and turned it into a big hit during the holiday season. It’s an uptempo, rocking tune that played right to Garth’s nature.
41) Why Ain’t I Running
A later single on the retirement album Scarecrow. This song was a favorite among hardcore fans. It wasn’t the highest charting single and there wasn’t much marketing power behind it, but it was unique among other songs on the charts at the time and unique among other Garth songs. For die hard fans it holds a strong place in the GB collection.
40) Thicker Than Blood
A top twenty hit off his last studio album Scarecrow, Thicker Than Blood was a story song that saw Garth looking back on a family that wasn’t the most traditional. Garth shares a co-write credit on the song and the moral of the story is that no matter what the story of your own family is – different last names, different dads, different moms, a few brothers and sisters – the love you share is more important than the blood in your veins. And that love makes you strong and it makes your family meaningful.
It was a powerful message that connected with many in the later years of Garth’s big days.
39) Wild Horses
The song was originally released on Garth’s huge hit album No Fences, but it didn’t see the light of day as a single until 2000. The single release worked as a filler single between Sevens, Double Live, and Scarecrow. The song had little promotion and people were wondering where the song had come from, but once again the song was strong and it carried itself up the charts and became another top ten for Garth.
38) Lost In You
In 1999, Garth released the soundtrack album to a movie that was never released. Chris Gaines Greatest Hits confused Garth’s fans. It was an AC feeling album with ballads that sounded strange to those used to the cowboy rocking tunes. The songs and the album were met with criticism and rejection from most fans, but the songs were strong. And one of those songs Lost In You became a hit on multiple single charts. The song showed Garth’s ability to simply create music that connects.
37) You Move Me
A slow moving song that sees Garth singing about a lover that moves him with the way she lives her life. The song has meaning for many various reasons for many of Garth’s fans. The song became one of Garth’s most passionate songs during his live shows. The message connected with women that wanted to hear it and it connected with men that were struggling to find the words to say to their girls.
36) That Ol’ Wind
The last single release off of Garth’s album Fresh Horses. The song That Ol’ Wind is often forgotten in the immense collection of Garth Brooks. It’s a great song and it reached the top five in 1996. The song became more than simply a filler hit to get from album to album. The song is a story about lovers whose paths have crossed again. Interestingly, the two are brought together by the power of a song. That Ol’ Wind connected with fans and the passionate delivery from Garth is likely a big reason.
35) American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
Released amid Garth Brooks Mania American Honky-Tonk Bar Association became a big hit for Garth. It was in the same vein as Friends in Low Places, but this tune had a unique feel that fans could connect to. The song was an uptempo number that allowed fans to sing in the car. The chorus was so catchy that most kids found it fun to twang along to the title lyric.
34) Alabama Clay
An album cut off of Garth Brooks’ first album, Alabama Clay was never a hit single, but the power of the song connected with farmers and fans across the farming community. The song is a story about farming and the struggles and hard work it takes to make it in the important farming world. You can still hear this song every once and awhile on playlist mixes or at the house of a Garth fan’s house since the power of the song has resonated with people even though it was buried behind all of the hits.
33) Somewhere Other Than The Night
Garth Brooks has had songs that reached out and touched the heart strings of women. He often cited his influential mother and his first wife for being inspiration for some of his songs. Brooks deeply respects passionate and classy women. The song Somewhere Other Than The Night sees Brooks singing to himself and other men that women need more from the men in their lives than just what happens during the nighttime.
32) When You Come Back To Me Again
Once again showing Garth’s love for movies, When You Come Back To Me Again was released on the Frequency soundtrack. It was a top 30 hit on the country charts in 2000, but also a hit on the AC charts. The song wasn’t one of the huge smash hits of Brooks career, but when the song comes on and you’re hanging out with a few guys and gals one of them will usually say that they love the song. That’s the power of a tune.
31) Papa Loved Mama
A classic song almost in the lyrical nature of Dennis Linde Papa Loved Mama had an almost mean groove to it. Kids were singing along to the melody as parents did a double take to to the lyrics. The song is about a truck driver coming home to find that his wife is cheating on him. An all too common reality for many around the world the story connected with fans and the arrangement of the song made it a huge hit during Garth’s most popular days.
30) Not Counting You
By the time Not Counting You was released as the third single off of his debut album, Garth was finding big success in country music. It was 1990 and Garth was coming off his first #1 with If Tomorrow Never Comes. Brooks found another way to connect with fans with the two-stepping Not Counting You. It’s a short and fun song that was a temporary release for fans as they listened to music in the car on their way to work. Catchy, fun songs will always have their place in music and this was a great tune from Garth Brooks.
29) Two of a Kind, Workin’ On a Full House
Two of a Kind came out as the third single off Garth’s signature album No Fences. The album was hot on the heels of Friends In Low Places and Garth was nearing the top of his reign as music’s biggest act. The song was a fun song for fans and the play on a card game added a little extra. The song was used in schools around the US as kids would learn how to line dance in gym class to this song. It was always interesting to see the kids getting into the fun song out on the gym floor.
28) In Another’s Eyes
Released in ’97 and technically a guest appearance by Brooks, In Another’s Eyes was a duet with Trisha Yearwood – Garth’s future wife and longtime friend. The passion and connection between the two singers was obvious to fans as the two sang their hearts out on the track. In concert, the song was a big hit as Yearwood often joined Brooks on stage. Crowds loved seeing the two together. As a big hit for both artists, it’s obvious the song has a deeper meaning to the two stars.
The influence of George Strait is evident throughout Garth’s career. Rodeo is almost an ode to King George in the same way Much Too Young was. Rodeo was the first single off of Garth’s landmark album Ropin’ The Wind. The song was a big hit and is still one of the most popular Garth songs today as it’s played on the radio still. There was always a little bit of George Strait in Garth and Rodeo is one of the better efforts to capture the nature of the genre.
26) She’s Gonna Make It
She’s Gonna Make It was released off the album Sevens. Another song for the women in his life, Brooks sang the lyrics with passion and became the storyteller again. Brooks often sang about the struggles women go through with the men in their lives. It might be part of what made Brooks so compelling to the female artists. He may have made mistakes of his own when it came to women, but he understood the nature of the relationship and he respected the challenges women put up with when it came to putting up with men.
25) It’s Your Song
The only single released from Garth’s immensely successful live album Double Live, It’s Your Song became a top ten smash. The song is often referred to as Brooks’ song to his mother that was suffering from cancer at the time of its release. Garth put his usual emotion into the track and it connected with fans. The live versions of the song that Brooks played in concert were the most powerful. The track isn’t as strong as some of Garth’s other material, but the emotion and story behind the song makes this one of the more memorable hits from Garth.
24) More Than a Memory
By 2007, Garth had been avoiding the spotlight as he stayed home to raise his kids. Brooks and his ex-wife were very much part of their kids’ lives and Garth’s wife Trisha Yearwood was also helping to give the kids a great upbringing. However, the demand for new Garth music was still boiling over in the country music world. Garth got together with some music executives and put together The Ultimate Hits.
More Than a Memory served as the single that would kick off the album and the anticipation made history for Garth as the song became the first ever to debut at #1 on the country singles charts.
A passionate song about love and loss, the song is another classic in Garth’s arsenal of hits.
23) She’s Every Woman
Some of the greatest songs ever written have been about the woman in men’s lives. She’s Every Woman is another song that sees Garth Brooks singing about the impact women have had on him. It’s a simple lyric that praises a woman as being everything Garth has ever had or wanted in a woman the passion is there once again. It took six weeks for the song to reach the top of the charts. An instant hit for a passionate artist that had many fans – both male and female.
22) Good Ride Cowboy
Good Ride Cowboy was written – not by Brooks – as an ode to Brooks’ favorite performer, Chris LeDoux. the tribute song took the upbeat approach to Chris’ life and impact on rodeo and country music. Brooks sang about the rodeo lifestyle often in his career. It was often a tribute to the lifestyle he longed to live himself. George Strait was the main reason the rodeo genre was brought to country music fans, but Chris LeDoux lived the life as an actual rodeo cowboy and he sang about the life as well.
Good Ride Cowboy was the perfect tribute to the man that had a huge influence on the rocking nature of Garth’s live show.
21) Wrapped Up In You
In 2001, Garth delivered one last studio album for Capital Records Nashville. The lead single off the album was a very unique song in Wrapped Up In You. The song is slickly produced, but has the feel of an acoustic song. The video see Garth venturing into a small town where an impromptu jam session breaks out on the street corner with residents using everyday objects as instruments. The fun lyrics of the song connected with men and women alike as the simple lyrics describe all the ways men get wrapped up in the women they love.
20) Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You in?)
Putting together the remarkable George Jones and the high flying Garth Brooks, Beer Run became a fan favorite in 2001. If not for the tragedy of the fall in 2001 the fun nature of this song may have carried it higher on the charts. The song stalled in the 20’s on the singles charts, but the impact reached many fans. It’s still a favorite today for Friday evenings as the good working folks of America rush home from their offices, lumber yards, construction sites, and truck driving stations.
A little relaxation with a cool beverage on the weekend is a feeling that can’t be beat in America.
19) To Make You Feel My Love
A Bob Dylan cover, Garth’s version of To Make You Feel My Love was a big hit on the country charts. Brooks’ version was recorded for the soundtrack Hope Floats. The song was nominated for awards and it added another solid ballad to the Garth Brooks collection. A fan favorite and an intimate song for Garth, this song will continue to be a staple whenever he plays live.
18) The Beaches of Cheyenne
The album Fresh Horses sold a ton of records by normal standards, but by Garth standards it was a disappointment. The Beaches of Cheyenne was the third single off the album and became a solid #1 hit on the country charts. A rolling melody with steel guitars and easy going flow, the song tells the story of another rodeo cowboy. Garth could always sing the rodeo songs well and this was no different. The song captures an emotion that connected with many country fans that are cowboys in dream. And most songs that include Wyoming are hits in the country world. It’s a solid hit that plays well on radio even today.
17) Callin’ Baton Rouge
The great Dennis Linde wrote this classic country song. Recorded by others previously including The Oak Ridge Boys, Callin’ Baton Rouge became a huge hit for Garth Brooks in 1994. It was the final hit single from his huge album In Pieces. The song is uptempo and gets the crowd revved up at every one of Brooks’ live shows. The fiddle solo at the beginning of the song is unforgettable and Brooks pours his charm into every lyric. A great song. A great songwriter. And a great vocal laid down by the great Garth Brooks.
Everybody knows the chorus and sings along when the song comes on the truck radio.
16) What She’s Doing Now
Every guy likely asks himself this question from time to time as he makes his way through life. A slow ballad from Brooks, What She’s Doing Now is a classic tune that takes a melancholy approach to loved had and lost in every man’s life. The song sees a man torn apart by the love he lost. Perhaps we all look back on our lives at times and wonder if the choices we’ve made in the past could have been made a little more wisely while having a different outcome on who we are today.
The song can also be a reminder to the few lucky ones that have found the love of their life that they are truly lucky to know what their loved one is doing now.
A cover of a Billy Joel tune, Brooks’ version of Shameless is a classic Garth Brooks song. The second single release off Ropin’ The Wind, the song went straight to number one on the country charts and became another huge and memorable hit for Brooks. His favorite gal Trisha Yearwood sang background vocals on the track and the story goes that the two didn’t get along during the recording session. Brooks kept egging Yearwood to really put some sass on the track while Yearwood got annoyed with Brooks’ demanding nature. Despite the tension, the song became a way for Brooks to venture into the soul of country music while taking his career to higher levels of success.
14) We Shall Be Free
Not Garth’s biggest hit on the charts, We Shall Be Free had a huge impact on people at the tail of ’92 during with the backdrop of the LA Riots. The lyrics are hopeful and Brooks puts all of his emotion into the song to deliver a challenge to the American people. The song is about tolerance and faith. When we can tolerate what each of us does with their own lives and when we have faith in each other to strive for success…that is when we will truly be free.
13) The Thunder Rolls
The fourth and final single released from the huge album No Fences, The Thunder Rolls entered the country chart with huge buzz. The song debuted in the top 30, a record at the time, and ultimately reached the top of the charts. The music video for the song followed the song’s story of an enraged woman killing her man after he comes home with the scent of another woman on him. The video was banned from most TV stations due to its violent nature, but that couldn’t stop the fans from loving it. The song covers an all too common theme in the world and it connected with a large audience. The buzz took Brooks to new levels of success.
12) Two Pina Coladas
The album Sevens came out after the relatively disappointing album Fresh Horses. The album saw Brooks bring back some fun to his music. Two Pina Coladas became a big hit from the album. The Jimmy Buffett sounding track was fun for the summer on the beach and the chorus was easy to sing along with as fans loved that Brooks was giving them some great, catchy music.
11) Longneck Bottle
The first release off Sevens, the song Longneck Bottle became an unstoppable hit on the country charts in 1997. Country star from the ’80s Steve Wariner co-wrote, played, and sang on the track with Brooks. It was a duet that brought a country legend back to the top of the charts in Wariner. The song was fun, catchy, and unique. Longneck Bottle became one of the most played songs on the radio in ’97 and it brought Brooks back to the top of the country world.
10) Unanswered Prayers
Garth Brooks was flying high and coming off the smash success of The Dance and Friends In Low Places when he released Unanswered Prayers. The song is the story of a man finding his way back to his roots at a get together. He runs into an old flame and remembers that he once would give anything if she were to become his forever. The song takes an interesting look at life, destiny and the way things seem to always work out for the best. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t happen, the wishes that don’t come true that lead to the best outcomes in our lives.
9) Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til The Sun Comes Up)
The first single from In Pieces saw Garth Brooks busting out of the radio, TV, and stage with a nonstop, rocker of a tune that had fans trying to keep up with the lyrics. The song was a smash hit with fans. It raced to the top of the country charts and had fans on their feet holding their breath as they watched Garth run around the stage during his live shows.
8) Learning To Live Again
Not one of Garth’s hits that gets a lot of play on radio these days, Learning To Live Again is an emotional song that connected with a lot of lonely fans during the song’s run on the charts. The song tells the tale of a newly single man trying to get through each day as he tries to learn to live his life without the woman the things he became so accustomed to having.
7) If Tomorrow Never Comes
The song that took Garth to the top of the country singles charts for the first time, If Tomorrow Never Comes takes people through the thought of what would happen if the unthinkable happened today. The song was an instant classic for the fans that had something to live for. Garth admitted that during the song’s run on the charts that he and his band were falling to the pleasures of the road and that one night on stage he was overcome with the emotion of guilt when he tried to play this song. He broke down and told the crowd the details of what he was doing and when he and the band finally broke out into the song he gave one of his best performances ever. The crowd gave him a big ovation and he left to go talk with his wife.
6) Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
It’s unknown to most that the career of Garth Brooks struggled out of the gate. The promotion team at Capital Nashville had given up on Brooks’ first single Much Too Young by the time it was in the top forty and they were ready to move on. However, Garth and his management team believed that this was the song that would launch his career. Brooks and his manager hired a promotion team on their own dime and together they worked to push the song into the top ten. Now the song – a story about an aging rodeo cowboy – is a classic among Garth’s hits and still has a place on country radio today.
5) That Summer
Others may rank That Summer a little lower in the ranks of Garth’s hits, but the song strikes a chord with country music fans. The song tells the tale of a young kid finding first love with an older woman. The steel guitar wanes in the background and the melody is catchy. Brooks puts all of his emotion into the chorus he co-wrote and the song has something about it that is endearing even after all the time that’s passed since it reached #1 in 1993.
A few years after this song was released Deana Carter gave woman their coming of age tale with Strawberry Wine, but That Summer was the coming of age story for men across America.
4) Friends In Low Places
The song that launched No Fences and took Garth to the pinnacle of success in country music, Friends in Low Places is a national country music anthem. Previously recorded by country music traditionalist Mark Chesnutt, the song became a classic when Garth brought his attitude to the sing along chorus. With a few simple guitar chords to open up, the song begins with Garth telling the story of a good old boy telling an ex-lover that he’s doing just fine on his own with his good buddies.
If you find yourself at a wedding, dancehall, high school dance, or hunting club somewhere in the US you’ll probably find a few guys singing along (possibly after a few cold drinks) to the lyrics of Friends in Low Places.
3) Standing Outside The Fire
In Pieces was a huge album for Garth Brooks. Sandwiched right in the middle of single releases from the album was the anthem Standing Outside the Fire. The song’s video found a mentally challenged boy fighting to compete and finish a race at an event. The power of the song was in the vocals and the emotion Brooks put into every note. The song is uplifting. The song connects with people every where. But most importantly the song is an inspiration for so many across the world that need just a little push to take their lives to the next level.
2) The River
Garth Brooks always put his personal favorite song at the end of each album. When he released his third album Ropin’ The Wind that song was The River. The song is a simple metaphor for the paths we all take in our lives. Brooks co-wrote the song and he aptly described the struggles and success each person goes through. The song has a beautiful arrangement and music. The song serves and an inspiration to many. Even today you can attend graduation ceremonies or similar events and find The River as the anthem song.
I’ll never reach my destination if I never try
Such a simple lyric, but a powerful message in a song that is one of Garth’s personal favorites.
1) The Dance
In an interview, Garth Brooks proclaimed that The Dance was a song that may have been the turning point to his career. He truly believes that the release of the song as the fourth single from his debut album was the reason he vaulted into superstardom with his subsequent releases. Ty England, Garth’s friend and former band member stated that the song has such a simple yet powerful lyric. From the opening music to the final note, The Dance is one of the most well-known songs in country music history. It means many things too many people and it’s that simplicity in the meaning that connected with so many across the world.
Thankfully, fans were lucky enough to have The Dance be part of their lives and thankfully Garth was able to take his career to the ultimate heights of success as a result of its release.
Thanks for following the countdown. Share your final thoughts on the best songs of Garth Brooks with everyone in the comments.