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April 12

Why today? One of the first steps in Garth Brooks’ journey as an American music megastar took place on this date in 1989, with the release of his debut album.

About the record: Liberty B-44492, recorded In January 1989 at Jack’s Tracks in Nashville. Released in December 1989, it reached No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart. First appeared on Garth Brooks, Liberty 90897, released April 11, 1989. It reached No. 2 on Billboard’s country album chart and, so far, has sold or shipped at least 10 million copies.

Good, straight-ahead, self-penned country from the stylistic chameleon that was Garth Brooks the singer. As of now he’s retired, but you never know when that “was” in the previous sentence will become an “is.”

About the artist: The best thing about Garth Brooks is that he and I are the exact age, to the day! Seriously, I have a great appreciation for Brooks and his role in country music’s boom in the 1990s.

That wasn’t always the case; I used to roll my eyes (or worse) at his marketer’s approach to his craft. The way he’d add and subtract twang depending on the country-ness of the song. (Today’s selection is on the “plus” side.) The total lack of country-ness in numbers like “Shameless” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til The Sun Comes Up).” The arena-rock-style concerts with fly wires and busted-up guitars. Chris Gaines.

But, while not every move has been right in my estimation, I now view him as someone with an abiding appreciation for country music’s past, with an understanding that folks our age grew up with many musical influences. And really, you can’t argue with his level of success.

Now that there’s a distinct post-1975 category for Country Music Hall of Fame inductions, how can you not include Garth Brooks, a guy who’s sold more records than practically all his musical forebears put together. The more years that go by without his enshrinement, the more I’ll believe he’s getting the Webb Pierce treatment. How ’bout it, Country Music Association? Prove me wrong – put him in.

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