Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks lowest-selling studio album (Scarecrow at 5 million) is more albums than the most successful country music artist, with the exception of a few, can sell in today’s struggling CD market. Love him, hate him or indifferent to him, it cannot be disputed that Garth Brooks has had a profound influence on country music and music in general. This Oklahoma boy, who truly appreciates his hordes of fans, has enjoyed more success than even he thought possible… and we all know that Garth isn’t lacking in the confidence area.

Many things can and have been said about Garth Brooks, but the fact that he and his producer, Allen Reynolds, had a vision for his music that has quite obviously been successful is what makes this countdown relevant today.

“Beer Run (B-double E-double Are You In?)” – Duet with George Jones

Scarecrow (2001)

This song with his worthy idol, George Jones, is a fun tune that captures the energy of a bunch of friends who are itching to quench their week long thirst. Since they live in a dry county, they all have to cram into the truck to cross the county line. It’s okay, though, because “half the fun is in the getting there.” I hope so, because Garth seems to suddenly realize that it’s his turn to drive!

“Standing Outside The Fire”

In Pieces (1993)

Although Garth’s enunciation is a bit strange in this song, the infectious guitar pattern sticks in your head. His message is something that he is certainly qualified to preach. He simply advises us to fight the urge to avoid risks, which is a lesson that has strongly resonated with many people.

”Learning To Live Again”

The Chase (1992)

“Learning To Live Again” is a simple song, but it is sung with lots of emotion. The character in this song is having a difficult time of getting back into the dating game. Somehow, his friends convince him to go on a double date with them. He is so nervous that he can’t even seem to focus on the conversation. Worst of all, he’s forgotten his date’s name, which is a line into which Garth puts a lot of emotion.

“Cowboy Cadillac”

Sevens (1997)

“Cowboy Cadillac” has no lyrical value, but it’s sure fun and catchy. His girl looks as good as a Cadillac.

“The Beaches of Cheyenne”

Fresh Horses (1995)

This is a heartbreaking illustration of what could happen if you don’t adopt the sentiment of Garth’s song, “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” As if losing her husband to bull riding wasn’t enough, her diary reveals that they had had a fight before he had left. Likely, out of fear for his life, she told him that if he went to Wyoming, he might as well not bother to come home. So, he didn’t, which ends in two tragedies.

“If Tomorrow Never Comes”

Garth Brooks (1989)

Actually, I did not purposefully place this song right after “The Beaches Of Cheyenne”. However, since it’s here, I should mention that it is the foundation for the above song. It teaches an important message that we never know when we’ve said our last words to the people we love. So, it’s imperative, though challenging, to consider such a scenario when we’re tempted to be unkind.
“Unanswered Prayers”

No Fences (1990)

I’ve always wondered what the ex-wife’s of artists think when they hear a song that was written for them on the radio. Garth tells the story of when he and his then wife, Sandy, ran into an old love interest of his. As he’s talking to her, he realizes that she isn’t quite as incredible as he had remembered. So, he is very thankful that God chose not to answer his prayer that she would be his for all time. Instead, he is glad that God answered his prayer by saying “no.”

“Thicker Than Blood”

Scarecrow (2001)

Garth’s inner- hippie is present here. He explains the dynamics of his family and expresses that though they don’t all share the same last name, “love is thicker than blood.” In the second verse, he actually uses blood to show that love is thicker than blood. Finally, in the third verse, he expresses his sadness over the fact that there are people who choose to kill in order to solve disagreements. Not only am I drawn to the lyrics, I enjoy the production that is sparing on the instrumentation.

“The Thunder Rolls”

No Fences (1990)

A lot has been written about this song. It has been dissected and praised. The video was shown on VH1 and MTV for cross genre appeal.

Before seeing the video, however, nobody would guess (except if you’d heard Tanya Tucker’s version) that this song had anything to do with domestic violence. Instead, one would assume that it was just another cheatin’ song. So, not only did it bring attention to domestic violence, Garth made it into a great, emotionally charged song, even without the vivid video imagery.

“Callin’ Baton Rouge”

In Pieces (1993)

This is one of those awesome cover songs. The unconventional bluegrass sound is excellent and Garth musters all of his vocal chops to add the necessary body to the high energy production.

“The Dance”

Garth Brooks (1989)

I think everyone agrees that this is Garth’s signature song. In this piano driven performance, Garth’s voice is a little deeper than usual here. The song reflects that while he could have missed the pain, he would have missed the dance…the dance symbolizing relationships and interpreted as life experiences by Garth.

“What She’s Doin’ Now”

Ropin’ The Wind (1991)

I love the sadness in this song. He wonders what his former lover is doing now. Whatever it is that she’s doing, it’s breaking his heart, because it’s not being done with him. Garth sings this song with an appropriately subdued vocal performance.

“Two Of A Kind, Workin’ On A Full House”

No Fences (1990)

What a great redneck declaration of love wrapped in a bunch of poker metaphors! Even better, Garth sings this song as if he’s having a great time.

“Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”

The Lost Sessions (2005)

This song has been sung by more than one other artist. Garth’s version is a nice addition to the collection though. He sings this song about a lofty dream of a world with no more wars quite sincerely.

“Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy”

Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy (1992) – Chris LeDoux album

This song asks the all important question of what would you do with a cowboy who just wanted to stay home rather than come and go as he pleased. It’s a hilarious song that is appropriately sung with the ultimate cowboy, Chris LeDoux.

“Papa Loved Mama”

Ropin’ The Wind (1991)

There’s nothing better than a country song that includes cheating and murder. While the subject matter is serious and dark, Garth makes it sound fun. Is that a good thing? Probably not, which is the beauty of this song.

“Meet Me In Love”

The Lost Sessions (2005)

There are some good tracks on this album of leftover songs that didn’t make it onto Garth’s planned albums. This is one of them. It is pretty much a loungy, lascivious song that Garth sings the heck out of.

“Ain’t Going Down ‘Til The Sun Comes Up”

In Pieces (1993)

This song captures chaos extremely well. This rebellious teen just keeps running off to party ‘til the sun comes up. The threat of being grounded until she’s dead does nothing to curb her recalcitrance. Although it takes a lyric sheet to decipher all of the words, it’s an infectious song that always prompts me to turn my stereo up.

“Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”

Garth Brooks (1989)

I love this song, because there are certainly days when I can relate all too well to its title. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Need I say more? Well, I’ll say one more thing. It makes for a great country song.

“Face To Face”

The Chase (1992)

The production of this song does well to lend itself to dark subject matters that include bullying, abuse and facing the devil (which I interpret as inner daemons). This song can be found at the end of The Chase album. When I was a kid, I remember that I would always stop the tape before this song came on, because it frightened me so much. Yes, I was a wimp. Now, as an adult, I understand the importance of a song like this. It still puts a little fear in me, but that’s a testament to an effective song.

“Belleau Wood”

Sevens (1997)

The heart warming story in this song is famous. The universality of a Christmas song, “Silent Night,” brings opposing soldiers together for a few moments in World War I. Garth sings this song with appropriate reverent restraint.

“Don’t Cross The River”

Scarecrow (2001)

Garth’s bluegrass version of America’s “Don’t Cross The River” is a whole lot of fun. I would love to hear Garth sing some more bluegrass music. Then again, I’d love to hear just about any artist sing more bluegrass influenced music.

“We Shall Be Free”

The Chase (1992)

This song was so controversial that it stalled on the charts due to some radio stations’ refusal to play it. They took issue with Garth’s admission that “When we’re free to love anyone we choose” did, indeed, refer to same sex relationships. Unfortunately, the focus on that particular line overshadowed all of the other worthy proclamations. Because of the daring move on his part, this song did not have the success that Garth was used to enjoying. While I appreciate the progressive lyrics, I also enjoy the gospel feel. It’s a great song by a professed “ordinary man.” Okay, so maybe he’s not so ordinary these days, but it’s still a great song by a guy who’s at least correct that he’s no prophet.

“That Summer”

The Chase (1992)

This song is aptly titled. It tells of a teenage boy’s tawdry summer affair with an older widow. Somehow, Garth’s producer, Allen Reynolds, was able to make this steamy story sound innocent. It also doesn’t hurt that the chorus is undeniably catchy.

“Friends In Low Places”

No Fences (1990)

While “The Dance” might be considered to be Garth’s signature song, I argue that “Friends In Low Places” is a close, or even equal, contender. I’ve always thought of it as Randy Travis’ “Better Class of Losers” in action.

While I love Mark Chesnutt, I have to admit that he recorded a lackluster and completely forgettable version of this song. Garth Brooks, however, breathed incredible life into it and turned it into a timeless classic. The introductory guitar strums are instantly recognizable. As soon as you hear them, you know that it’s time to crank up your stereo to enjoy 3 minutes of a great time!

It’s about a man who realizes that he’ll never really fit into his girl’s pretentious life. So, apparently, he decides to prove it by embarrassing her and crashing her “black tie affair.” Since he knows that they’ll never make it in her high society world, he assures her that he’ll be fine because he has plenty of “friends in low places.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I am particularly partial to this song, because I’m quite sure it is what brought me into the country music fold. Because I heard this song on somebody else’s radio, I liked it so much that I was inspired to turn my own radio to a country music station in an effort to hear it again. Since it was a Saturday morning, countdowns were on our two country music radio stations. So, I didn’t get to hear “Friends In Low Places” that morning, but I was introduced to what has become my very favorite genre of music for the past 15 years, which is what has, essentially, led me to be able to pose as a critic for this country music blog today.

So, ultimately, you can thank Garth and Kevin for the posts of mine that cause your blood pressure to go up. Thanks for reading!


  1. Great list! Mine would be topped by “Callin’ Baton Rouge”, which I never tire of. I think my only Garth faves not on here are “Shameless” and “When You Come Back to Me Again.” I also really like “Somewhere Other Than the Night.” I wish his catalog was available digitally so I could check out the songs I haven’t heard.

  2. I’m not sure if I could even make a list of my own. Similar to your story, I love music the way I do today because of Friends In Low Places. I heard as a 5 year old kid in my dad’s pickup. Soon enough I knew every word and need a cowboy hat and boots so I could sing Garth Brooks all the time. Because of that song, I still listen to country, despite growing up in a time and area where country isn’t always cool. Thank you Garth.

  3. I really struggled about whether or not I wanted to include “Shameless” and “Somewhere Other Than The Night.” They kept going on the list and then back off again. I guess 25 spots isn’t enough for some of my favorite artists.

  4. Good list and I liked reading the choices.

    I’m so glad you included “Don’t Cross the River”. If it were available for download on iTunes, I would definitely have made it into one of my recommendations on my site. I wish Garth would release his music digitally because I am missing some of his great songs.

    – CF

  5. I’ll always hold a special place for Garth as well. Like Leeann, he is the one who really introduced me to country music. I saw him singing “Standing Outside the Fire” on an awards show and it was awesome. “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” “Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old,” “That Summer” and “We Shall Be Free” are probably my favorites.

    I had a wonderful opportunity to see him live in LA recently. He was dorky, goofy, fun and utterly charming. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. The “Thunder Rolls” was my favorite song in concert. Although I still live in a place where country isn’t cool, Garth will always be cool to me.

  6. Okay – can see why your preferences wuld run in the order they do. Mine would be

    1) If Tomorrow Never Comes
    2) Unanswered Prayers
    3) Calling Baton Rouge (The Newgrass Revival version was better still)
    4) Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
    5) Beaches of Cheyanne

    after that I don’t care much one way or the other except that I really dislike “Friends In Low Places” (very immature) and “The Thunder Rolls” (very overwrought)

  7. just to throw this out there…what does everyone think of the song, In Lonesome Dove? I personally think it is outstanding.

  8. Wait…did Scarecrow actually sell less than the Chris Gaines album, or are you not counting that one? Sorry to nitpick.

    Anyway, great choices. The only one I really miss here is “A Friend to Me”, a song which I never liked until I saw the VH1 Storytellers performance of it, which blew me away. I also really liked “More Than a Memory”, but I can see how it wouldn’t make the top 25.

  9. I think I might have to write up my a list of my favorite Garth songs. One recent one I’m partial to is from “The Lost Sessions.” It’s “You Can’t Help Who You Love” but then again, the song’s writers are Marcus Hummon and Steve Wariner. Both are brilliant songwriters and Garth takes their song and makes a classic that could’ve been a hit for the Lost Sessions disc.

  10. Corey, I liked “In Lonesome Dove” for awhile, but instead of growing on me, it kind of wore on me.

    Dan, I didn’t count the Chris Gaines album, because I didn’t consider it to be a regular studio album, since he said it was his “alter ego” Also, I like “A Friend To Me” too; it just didn’t make the list. It’s funny how the list would have been so much different 10 years ago.

    Matt, strangely, I really like the verses of “You Can’t Help Who You Love”, but the chorus loses my attention.

    You’re absolutely right that “Friends In Low Places” is immature and “The Thunder Rolls” is overwrought. However, I guess I don’t mind a little immaturity, as long as it doesn’t define an artists career, such as Montgomery Gentry or Kenny Chesney. Likewise, a well done overwrought song is okay once in awhile for me. I would just argue that “The Thunder Rolls” seems even more overwrought due to the video. I think it’s just dramatic and not so overwrought if the recording is judged on it’s own. Just my assessment though.

    Finally, thanks for the great feedback!

  11. My faves are:
    What She’s Doing Now
    Night Rider’s Lament
    Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
    Somewhere Other than the Night
    The Dance
    If Tomorrow Never Comes
    Unanswered Prayers
    The Cowboy Song
    Calling Baton Rouge
    To Make You Feel My Love

    I don’t even like several songs on your list. I much prefer early Garth before his song choices and performances dropped in quality.

  12. Good list, Leeann.

    Last time I was in Wal-Mart all of Garth’s regular albums were $4.88, so even if his stuff isn’t available digitally, he’s made it easily accessible with the low cost.

    As far as songs go, three of my favorites are “The Dance,” “In Lonesome Dove,” and “Which One of Them.”

  13. Roger, I love it when Garth Yoddles at the end of “Night Rider’s Lament.” Plus, I like that the word “lament” is used in a song title.:)

  14. I count 37 top 10 songs on Wikipedia (as accurate or not as that may be), so there is definitely a lot of room for disagreement on a list of only 25 songs. Maybe that is why when I encourage Leeann to do a Johnny Cash list she always seems to change the subject. The more great songs, the harder choosing favorites is.

  15. Some that I would have included, not on the list are:

    – Every Now and Then (like What She’s Doing Now, but Garth captures the bittersweet feeling of trying move beyond someone who maybe don’t want to be completely over)

    – The River (inspiring, especially in the face of dark times)

    – Wild Horses (not totally memorable, but catches my attention on every listen)

    – That Girl is a Cowboy (I like the premise more than the production)

    – That Old Wind (this song gives me chills)

  16. Glad that you included a few from the Lost Sessions, which has a few of my favorites on it…but as several people said, not everyone is going to agree on the top 25, which is why this is your top 25 — and it gives us a reason to start talking…

  17. The “Belleau Wood” song from the “Sevens” album is actually set during World War I. This is indicated by trenches being mentioned a couple times. The song is about Christmas 1914 when there was a truce and the soldiers met between the trenches.

    Another great Garth song is “The River” because it has a great message.

  18. Allan, thanks.

    As for “The River”, I knew I’d get into some trouble for not including it on the list. I really like the message and there are things about the song that I like, including the production, but there’s something that keeps it from being one of my favorite Garth songs today. I think the melody of the chorus kind of seems too Disney to me.

  19. Lanibug, exactly the point I would make if you hadn’t made it first. I enjoy this feature because, as you said, it starts a conversation, which is most important. There has been great feedback on this thread and I love it.

  20. Wow…where are the Trisha Yearwood fans? “In Another’s Eyes” anyone? That’s a great song everyone seemed to have missed (or forgetten about?). Other than that, I simply must tip my hat to Leeann, because I know I could NEVER put together a list of my top 25 Garth songs. Too many last-minute-changes and I’d never be happy with it. Kudos to you.

  21. Hey Kevin and Casey,

    That’s what I meant to say last night, but totally forgot to do. I wasn’t tempted to include “In Another’s Eyes”, because the melody really doesn’t capture my attention, but “Squeeze Me In” is incredibly energetic and they seem as though they’re having a ton of fun. As for the duet that they have on The Lost Sessions? The melody and the lyrics are very cliche.

    Casey, I appreciate your comment. You’re absolutely right that it’s hard to put these lists together. There is a lot to consider when doing so. Not only do I consider my own personal preferences, hence the feature title, but I’m admittedly a bit mindful of what I know will be the popular opinion. To be honest though, I really try to go with my preferences, just in case there’s a chance that I happen to mention songs that others haven’t heard or have forgotten about. On the same note, there’s no use in trying to predict other’s favorites, so I might as well list mine. I’m pretty sure the same old list would just be boring anyway.’

    For the record, even though I’ve really only liked 1 out of 3 Garth and Trisha duets (is there another one that I’m not thinking of? On the Double Live album?), I would love for them to do that duet album that they keep talking about. I think they’re voices are great together. While Trisha’s voice is clearly stronger and better, (even Garth has said so), I always hear a similar quality in them. I think that it’s that they both crack in the same way. Does that make sense? Or am I crazy?

  22. WOW! Brings back memories of just how much I liked Garth’s first three cds when they were new. That was a great time to be a Garth fan, pre-multi-stadium shows.

    I love:
    If Tomorrow Never Comes
    What She’s Doing Now
    Unanswered Prayers
    The Dance
    … off the top of my head.
    He was still country without the over-theatrics. The feelings he sung seemed more real, less forced.
    Good stuff.

  23. “Cowboy Cadillac” has no lyrical value, but it’s sure fun and catchy. His girl looks as good as a Cadillac.”

    Erm…Cowboy Cadillac is about the cowboy’s TRUCK!!

  24. Oh crap, I guess I never delved deep enough into the lyrics to get that…though it’s pretty obvious now that you mention it. I just liked it because it sounded good, which is a poor excuse, since I’m typically critical of lyrics. Luckily, the insight doesn’t change my opinion of the song.:)

  25. Wow, it doesn’t get anymore daunting than a list of the top 25 Garth songs. It’s already been mentioned but my favorite story song of all time is “In Lonesome Dove”. It grew on me rather than wearing. Also I liked What She’s Doing Now, Wolves, The Red Strokes, That Girl Is a Cowboy, That Ol Wind, Wild Horses, It’s Midnight Cinderella, Somewhere Other Than the Night, Unanswered Prayers and What She’s Doing Now. I’ve heard that the last song on every album is his personal favorite. Has anyone else heard this too? And finally, I love the message of “We Shall Be Free” and sadly, 15 years later, I think it would still be considered controversial for many programmers and listeners. Definitely ahead of his time and courageous on that one.

  26. I Like all the songs that you have on there that I have heard. However I’d like to give a nod to “The Night I Called the Old Man Out”. Great song about reaching man hood.

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