Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amazon Review

Everything you didn't know you needed to know about Nahville, June 22, 2009

Good, popular writing and lots of insider informatiion. I have been a country music fan for decades and this book helped me feel that I had a privileged look at the way the industry works and who controls what and who. A real pleausre and a book ot hold onto and refer to.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book signing

Signing in Tulsa on Saturday, June 13th, 2:00 PM. Barnes & Noble!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NY Post 20 Best Beach Reads


Review by the Examiner's Jonathon Pinkerton

Nashville biographer Patsi Bale Cox's The Garth Factor much more than a Brooks memoir
June 4, 11:22 AM · www.examiner.com
The Garth Factor/Center Street/Hachette Book Group

When Benita Hill suggested I read Patsi Bale Cox's latest book, The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom, I have to admit I wasn't too keen on the idea. While Benita, along with Shawn Camp and Sandy Mason, did write Two Pina Coladas, one of Garth Brooks' big hits, surely she knows my taste runs more along the lines of female singers. Not sure why, but I have always been drawn to girl singers in all genres. That said, I have to also admit that I have never been a big Garth fan, again, not sure why, just never was a fan. Well, I got a copy of the book and within a few pages, I was intrigued.

Cox, who has co-written bios on some of country music's biggest stars, including, Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Ralph Emry and Wynonna, steps it up with this latest offering. Being a Nashville native myself--there are a few of us around--I thoroughly loved that the book is more than a Garth bio, but also a rich history of country music, and Music City itself. The references to so many places, Third Coast, Maude's Courtyard, Windows on The Cumberland, and institutions like TNN, The Opry, Opryland, are a country fans dream! Of the difference between this and the usual bio, Patsi said, "Autobiographies and memoirs reflect what the artist deems important to them. This book concentrated on what a journalist deemed important about a career. I loved doing both kinds of writing." When asked how long it took to write the book, Patsi joked, "Nineteen years...since I first started writing about his music in 1990." She then confessed, "But in the final analysis, about a year."

The book opens, as a young Brooks makes his first trek to Nashville from his home in Oklahoma to pursue his dream of being a country music star. I was immediately taken by the details of the narrative, the history of his family; his mother, Colleen had herself been signed to Capitol records. Patsi had many opportunities to speak with the Superstar's mother during his rise to fame since the author wrote press-releases, bios and such for Cathy Gurley's Gurley & Company, the firm Capitol turned to for most of their marketing needs. In addition to her record deal, Garth's mother had appeared on The Arthur Godfrey Show in the 1950s. Side note: Having just seen my sweet friend Mandy Barnett starring in Always...Patsy Cline at The Ryman, the reference to The Arthur Godfrey Show popped out at me. In addition to The Arthur Gofrey Show, Patsi said Colleen appeared on many shows and was actually a regular for a while on Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee." Another side note: Ozark Jubilee's executive producer was Si Siman. Back in 2001, I had the pleasure of working with Siman's son, Scott Siman, the head of rpm management. Until recently, rpm was the powerhouse management team behind the success of Tim McGraw.

Garth Brooks & Patsi Bale Cox/photo by Dan Chandwick But enough about my ties to Music Row, back to the book...As Cox points out in the book, "Colleen's career had sometimes been overlooked, mentioned as a mere footnote to that of her son. But at one time she was traveling throughout the United States, building a following and a professional name. Given the right set of circumstances, there is a very real chance that Colleen Carroll could have been a national star."

That passage sets the tone of the entire book. Yes, it's a simple message and perhaps not the specific one Cox intended, but the book is full of choices and opportunities. And Brooks is a master at making the right ones and taking full advantage. The frank nature of Cox's narrative reveals a softer side of Brooks, a fear you'd never expect from an artist who would go on to sell more than 100 million records. An example of this comes early-on when he has made his first trip to Nashville, and after an unexpected event in a Music Row office, he basically high-tails it back home, only to fully prepare himself for the real move to Music City.

I asked Patsi how involved Garth was in the writing of this book, and if he resisted. "No, but I didn't ask his permission," admitted Cox. "I specifically did not want this to be authorized or unauthorized because I felt it would taint what I had to say. He is very supportive of what I set out to do. But he made no attempt to influence it in any way."

The author's unique insight and freedom to tell the story is what is so compelling. Her sources include, "the songwriters, Allen Reynolds, Joe Mansfield, Capitol employees….many, many people over the years and some of them again at the end…not to mention Garth for all those years." Patsi also revealed that Garth's management provided a great resource. "Most of it came from Garth’s management’s archives," she explained.

Patsi Bale Cox/photo by Alan Mayor There are pages upon pages of narrative spring-boards that draw the reader in. Cox is an amazing chronicler, but with focus, so much focus. When most biographers would recall Garth and his father listening to George Strait's Unwound on the car radio, as being a life, and career changing moment, that's usually where it would end. Not with Cox. She then goes on in elaborate detail to reveal Strait's early influences and brings it all back around to Garth.

Another example of her expert storytelling comes about midway through the book, in what I consider the juiciest part of Brooks' career. The controversy with Capitol record executive, Jimmy Bowen, as relayed by Cox paints a fair and balanced look at two very strong, opinionated and successful men. But again, Cox weaves more than a tale of two struggling powerhouses. She goes into great detail about other artists who were signed to the label at the time and the paths their careers took. I particularly enjoyed the quick mention of Reba's Does He Love You duet partner, Linda Davis. As Cox put it in the book, "Linda's legacy for Capitol may end up being her daughter, Hillary Scott, who could often be found in the label's offices, quietly coloring in a corner while her mother held an interview." Readers will recognize Davis' daughter's name, as she is now part of Capitol's mega-popular trio, Lady Antebelum. Of her inside access to not only Garth's career, but country music history itself, Cox explained, " I don’t think at the time things are happening you really “get” how extraordinary it is, how lucky you are. For example, when I marched for Civil Rights at age 18, and published a feminist magazine at age 29–I saw myself as a worker, not a trailblazer. Now I realize what a privilege it was to be a part of history. (Too bad you have to get old to figure so many things out!) I think in country music the thing that has been the most important to me was becoming friends with so many people I admired so much--Johnny Cash, Tammy, Loretta, Wynonna, Tanya, Donna Fargo…Benita Hill!"

While I had the opportunity, I asked Patsi about one media firestorm I remembered concerning Garth demolishing a guitar during his NBC concert, This Is Garth Brooks. I had watched it with my parents, and they seemed stunned that Garth would end a song by smashing a guitar to smithereens. I asked Patsi if the following media upheaval was the desired effect. "Not at all. Rock stars did it all the time. As someone who had worked in the business a long time I was shocked at the sudden outrage at something that had been done so many times." She offered the following scoop with a smile, "Actually, Garth had tried to get seconds to bust and they didn’t arrive. He has always regretted not having them ordered earlier."

It's that kind of humor and honesty that keeps the reader's interest. "I set out to set straight some of the complete BS I had read about him and his career – much of it written by pop critics who would be well advised to spend their time decontructing “Whiter Shade of Pale,” concluded Patsi.

Again, tonight, Patsi will be appearing at Nashville's Davis Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills where she will be reading excerpts from the book, and signing copies for those in attendance. Tomorrow at noon, she and my buddy Benita Hill will be at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Next Saturday, June 13, Patsi will be at a Tulsa Barnes & Noble in Garth's home state of Oklahoma at 2pm. The author is already at work on her next project. She is working with six-time Grammy winning singer-turned-Las Vegas-headliner-turned-Dancing With The Stars-fan-favorite, Toni Braxton. While she might be best-known for her country bios, this won't be Patsi's first non-country subject. In addition to her books with Tanya, Loretta, Ralph and Wy, she has also penned bios on singer Tony Orlando and talk show host, Jenny Jones.

Nashville City Paper

The power of the Garth Brooks phenomenon
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 12:00am
By Ron Wynn

No solo artist in any musical genre has equaled the incredible feats of Garth Brooks, who has sold more than 128 million albums since his 1990 debut and been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as the all-time single act top seller.

Author and longtime journalist Patsi Bale Cox was a Capitol Records executive during Brooks’ rise to fame on the label, and her new book The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom (Center Street) examines what remains a phenomenal event in country music history.

Cox, who will discuss and sign copies of her book at events Thursday night at Davis-Kidd Booksellers and Friday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, says that the single biggest misconception many still have about Brooks is the notion his triumphs come solely from his marketing savvy.

“This whole thing about Garth being this marketing genius is a myth that got spun way out of control many years ago,” Cox said. “First there’s this frequently reported falsehood that he was a marketing major in college [it was advertising], when he wasn’t. Second, Garth in the beginning didn’t really know that much about marketing or business. Sure, he learned and became very savvy about it, but the person who was the real marketing guru at Capitol was Joe Mansfield.”

According to Cox, Mansfield was the person who convinced Garth to forget the widely held notion in the music business that when you have a new album to promote, you disregard the albums and hits that came before it.

“Instead, he showed him the advantages of really working the catalog, of getting everything you could out of not only what was brand new, but everything that came before,” Cox said. “Garth embraced that idea and because of Joe Mansfield, it enabled him to get big sales on all his albums. Mansfield’s role in Garth’s success hasn’t received anywhere near the credit it deserves.”

Cox’s book traces Brooks’ life and times from his Oklahoma beginnings right up to his emergence as a superstar. In addition to noting his overall love for music, Cox cites Brooks’ empathy with women writers and artists and says that’s one of the things she’ll emphasize during her Friday presentation.

“Every female artist and writer that I’ve ever met and spoken with says Garth Brooks doesn’t have a sexist bone in his body,” Cox continued. “He’s never come across with that ‘I’m a star’ attitude or ‘I’m the boss’ during writing sessions. He truly treats women as equals. That’s one big thing that separates him from a lot of others.”

Cox says another key quality Brooks possesses is his ear for talent.

“I remember having conversations with him about some obscure performer and he would light up and say how much he loved that person’s music,” she said. “It would turn out that he heard them in some tiny club or had gotten hold of a cassette from somewhere.”

She also highlights Brooks’ willingness to take controversial stands and champion such causes as gay and civil rights without fear or regret. “Some people are just reckless and do those things without any worries or knowledge of the potential ramifications,” Cox said. “Garth knows the potential pitfalls and does it because he’s always been a champion of the underdog, going back to his childhood days, when he would befriend kids who had been bullied or ignored. He’s always been fearless in that regard and willing to express himself on any number of issues.”

Cox’s volume offers the inside story on many things in Brooks’ life, including the real scoop on the “Garth Brooks is Chris Gaines” flap, his sometimes stormy relationship with label figures like legendary producer Jimmy Bowen, and the evolution of his current marriage to Trisha Yearwood and demise of his previous union.

A well-connected writer who’s previously done acclaimed biographies on such stars as Loretta Lynn and The Judds, Cox avoids dubious speculation and unproven gossip, instead offering documented accounts, detailed coverage of specific events and multiple interviews with key persons and sources.

When asked what figure in country music history she would link with Brooks, Cox cites longtime friend and mentor, honky-tonk giant Floyd Tillman.

“Floyd believed just like Garth that country is a big tent, and both were and are open to new ideas. Floyd was always a honky-tonk guy first and foremost, but he didn’t mind working in some jazz licks sometimes or trying some fresh things. Garth has that same attitude, a lover of country music first, but still willing to include some different things in the music as well.”

Cox, whose next project will be on R&B and urban music sensation Toni Braxton, says she anticipates Brooks will someday return to the Nashville scene, though in a different role.

“I see him as eventually spending a lot of time working with new artists and using Jack’s Tracks [the recording studio owned by Brooks] as a place where some fresh voices get developed and some excellent recordings made,” Cox concluded. “Who knows, he may find another talent of the magnitude of Trisha or Martina (McBride). If anyone could do it, Garth Brooks would be that person.”

What: Author Patsi Bale Cox discusses and signs copies of her new book The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and noon Friday
Where: Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 2121 Green Hills Village (Thursday); The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 Fifth Ave. S. (Friday)
Cost: Free and open to the public
Info: 385-2645, daviskidd.com (Thursday); 416-2001, countrymusichalloffame.com (Friday)

Country Music Examiner Review

Music Row insider delivers new book, free June 5 talk about superstar Garth Brooks
June 4, 12:52 AM · by Lisa Rollins

Released May 28, 2009, Cox's book boasts an insider's perspective.Nashville-based biographer Patsi Bale Cox and her brand-new book, Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom, will be at the center of a free event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Book Talk: The Garth Factor will be presented by the local museum, 222 Fifth Ave. South, beginning at noon June 5, with the best-selling author as the featured guest.

In the Garth Factor, Cox draws on her decadelong relationship with the Oklahoma native to presents a portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of music’s best-selling solo artist and how he challenged the status quo of Nashville’s recording industry while creating a rising tide for all of country music during the genre’s peak in the 1990s.

Utilizing her insider knowledge from time spent working for Brooks’ former label, Capitol Records, Cox contrasts the performer’s quicksilver ascension with that of the industry as a whole, concluding that Brooks deserves credit for country’s unprecedented boon. And she doesn’t sidestep the friction between Brooks and his one-time label.

“It is a misconception that Nashville’s stars are the ones on the stage,” she asserts in the Garth Factor. “Inside the town’s business the real stars are the personalities who run record labels. They control artists and they control the music.”

Published by Center Street ($24.99), the Garth Factor chronicles Brooks’ life from birth to the present, and along the way, dishes out a bit of “boardroom drama” that demonstrates, she has said, why the Oklahoman who moved to Music City in ’85 did so cautiously upon the advisement of mom Colleen, a one-time singer who realized the pitfalls of the music business.

Garth Brooks and author Patsi Bale Cox in '90.Although Brooks was only one of a slew of hat acts who hit town at the time, Cox—who’s also inked books on Wynonna Judd, Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker—pens that he eclipsed the competition and broke records only to categorized as a bully by record execs, including former Capitol Records label chief Jimmy Bowen, who wrote about Brooks in his 1997 autobiography titled Rough Mix.

The real truth, Cox contends, is that Bowen’s antipathy toward Brooks probably resulted from a new contract that was negotiated above Bowen’s head with his bosses in New York—a deal that was unprecedented for Nashville and more on par with contracts for the likes of Madonna or Michael Jackson.

Cox also touches on more recent life events for Brooks, including having to confront the death of his mother, negative reviews for the “Chris Gaines” project and a crumbling marriage, as well as his 1999 retirement so that he could be more present in the lives of his three daughters and his 2005 marriage to country artist Trisha Yearwood.

Since his retirement, Cox reports, Brooks has sold an additional 28 million records, released new music and been involved in numerous other projects and performances. And industry-wise, she notes, country music sales have taken a huge slide, with a slight rebound in 2004; thus, Brooks’ contributions to Nashville are still evident. (She also hints about what Brooks hopes to do in the future as far as the music biz is concerned.)

“He brought country music concerts to new energy standards, seen now in so many concert tours, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, to name but a few,” she writes. “He also pumped up Nashville’s writing community, bringing so many great songwriters to the attention of the industry. … He also greatly broadened the scope of song subjects.”

Cox’s conclusion? “When all is said and done,” she observes, “Garth proved that country music is not only a big tent, but that expansion does not necessarily mean dilution.”

Museum info: The downtown Nashville museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and The Museum Store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. General admission is $19.99 for adults, $11.99 for children ages 6-17 and free for children under 6. The museum offers discounted admission ($17.99) to seniors (60 and older), the military and students (with valid IDs). Group rates are available for tours of 15 or more. There is no charge to visit the Curb Conservatory or the Museum Store. For more information, access www.countrymusichalloffame.com or call 615-416-2001.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

About.com Review


Patsi Bale Cox - 'The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom'

From Jennifer Webb, for About.com

Bottom Line:
From the first trip made to Nashville in 1985, through the present-day state of his career, Garth Brooks managed to take not only the country music genre by storm but the music industry as a whole. Patsi Bale Cox has done a wonderful job documenting the process using a style that's both informative and entertaining. That's no easy task, but she's managed to find that happy medium readers will be able to appreciate.

It's All About Balance
A re-occurring theme found throughout the pages of The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom is that Garth Brooks has always been consistent in his actions and has never shown himself as being too big-headed and full of himself. This fact goes for his career and personal life. He had his share of ups and downs, but I think the way he handled them all made him the superstar he is. If he had not remained such a grounded person, there would have been no way he could have made it through such high times without being virtually unscathed. Not only did the artist look after himself and his own family, but also he quietly took care of close friends and others who surrounded him. For a superstar to take the time to recognize those who have helped him along the way is an impressive feat.

Garth Brooks' Career
The subject of Garth's career is a big one in this book and there is a lot of ground covered. With any profession there are the inevitable ups and downs or variable roller coasters. There was no way Garth would walk away with a flawless collection of years in the spotlight. Though he's sold millions of albums, received numerous awards, sold out many concerts, and even played for the largest crowd in New York Central Park's history, there have also been infidelity rumors, video controversies ("Thunder Rolls"), and even people at his own record label trying to change the way he went about making his music. What tells a lot about a person is how they handle the calm and the storm. Garth has been able to gracefully stand up for himself and prove that he never plans on changing the person he is - no matter who tells him otherwise.

A Few Interesting Facts:
• Garth Brooks made sure that his band members were paid on the basis of a salary.
• Band members were also provided with medical insurance.
• During a time when a label head was making negative comments to and about staffers, Garth held a meeting with the staff to hear what they had to say and see if he could make things better.
• Even though the "Thunder Rolls" video controversy sparked many supporters and donations for abused women causes, Garth often felt the song itself was overshadowed and regretted that fact.
• Before each major concert gig, Garth would spend hours sitting in seats throughout the stadium/arena in order to ensure the best possible show for anyone who attended.
• Through Garth's entire career he has always kept his fans first and foremost in his heart while considering the music he records.

Behind the Scenes Knowledge
The most fascinating thing about The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom is the breadth of knowledge readers get about the music business and various goings-on that most regular folks aren't privy to. Although the general idea is to get a better picture of Garth's beginnings and then rise to superstardom, Patsi Bale Cox did a great job of keeping it interesting by talking about the people who Garth not only got along with, but those who seemed to clash with him when in the same room. Being let in on the small details is wonderful for not only fans but I would also say those who want to be in the business. That statement goes for future music acts, promotional staffers, a secretary position and everything in-between. The good and bad parts of things - as Garth experienced them - are all laid out on the table without any nonsense. Good advice and words of wisdom can be found in varying degrees within each chapter.

Release date: May 28, 2009 - Center Street

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review of The Garth Factor

By Mahlon Christensen
Goodreads/Amazon.com Reviewer

In The Garth Factor, Patsi Bale Cox chronicles the highs and lows in Garth Brooks roller coaster ride to becoming the biggest selling recording artist of all time. In the process she sets straight many misconceptions that have plagued Garth for much of his career. Through interviews with many of the musicians, songwriters and executives integral to Garth's success you'll get a behind the scenes look at how his music was recorded and marketed. You'll also learn the stories behind your favorite Garth Brooks songs. Long-time fans who've followed Garth's career closely may think they know all there is to know about the major confrontations that Garth had with various music row executives and other industry insiders, but I can guarantee that they will be surprised by the perspective Bale Cox offers on these major controversies. Fans will feel that they understand Garth better both professionally and personally after they've finished this book.

The author not only offers the reader an in-depth analysis of Brooks career, she also places it in the context of everything going on along music row at the time, discussing both artists who influenced Garth,as well as the careers of many of his "Class of '89" contemporaries,and also the next generation of performers who have risen to prominence in the wake of his retirement. In short, she paints a comprehensive picture of Country Music in the '90's. It's this aspect of The Garth Factor that lifts it above the realm of mere Biography and makes it a work of serious scholarship. This book is is essential reading for every serious student of the genre, and even casual fans of Garth, or those who came of age listening to Country Music in the last two decades will find much to enjoy.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Introduction to THE GARTH FACTOR

With Garth at the 1990 CMA Awards

On January 17, 2000 Garth Brooks was presented with the 1990’s Artist of the Decade Award at the 27th Annual American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Previous recipients had been Elvis Presley, 1950’s; the Beatles, 1960’s; Stevie Wonder, 1970’s; Michael Jackson, 1980’s.

It was a stunning honor. For a country artist to dominate all forms of music through one decade was something no one could have imagined in 1990. Moreover, it was a country artist who steadfastly refused to allow his singles to be promoted to pop or rock radio, even when those stations started playing them. Clearly, in the public eye, a country artist had conquered not just his own genre, but pop and rock as well.

For Garth, 2000 was an incredible year in an extraordinary decade.

Radio & Records named Garth and Patsy Cline the Greatest Artists of the Century in its special issue: A Century of Country. Laudatory agreement was coming from every corner of the press corps. Entertainment Weekly named him one of the greatest entertainers of the second half of the 20th century. The Detroit Free Press listed Garth and No Fences as one of the “…definitive recorded moments of the decade.” The Baltimore Sun’s J.D. Considine named him first in the line-up of most significant artists and moments in the past ten years of music. When The Dallas Morning News spoke to moments that shaped the ‘90s, the paper included Garth’s third album, Ropin’ the Wind, which had debuted at #1 on Billboard’s pop album chart on September 28, 1991. When critic Jon Bream named the artists who defined the decade in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he wrote: “The prolific Garth Brooks sold more albums and probably more concert tickets than anyone. He revolutionized country, bringing ‘70s pop/rock sensibilities to the music and arena rock values to the stage, expanding the audience more than anyone in Nashville imagined.”

When Garth’s record sales passed the 100 million mark, Capitol Records planned a black-tie extravaganza at the Nashville Arena – One Artist, One Decade, One Hundred Million (albums sold) – a feat unmatched by any other solo artist in history.

In late August of 2000 I received a call from Karen Byrd, Capitol’s Vice President of Public Relations. At that time, I was just wrapping up a book with Ralph Emery, Fifty Years Down a Country Road. So when Karen asked if I could spend September and October helping prepare for Garth’s big night, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In the end, it felt like coming home.

Karen and I had worked with Garth through the 1990s. Both of us had worked for Cathy Gurley at Gurley & Company, the PR arm of Capitol during Jimmy Bowen’s reign. Karen eventually went to Doyle/Lewis Management to work with Scott Stem on media. Capitol hired both Karen and Scott Stem after Pat Quigley was named president in 1997, and continued into Mike Dungan’s administration. Her knowledge of Garth’s career was encyclopedic.

While at Capitol I wrote press releases, bios, and marketing overviews, in addition to dealing with a list of national television and newspaper contacts. I wrote all label-generated material regarding Garth until 1995 when I left to write Tanya Tucker’s memoir, Nickel Dreams. After 1995, per Garth’s request, I continued to write the album bios dealing with his music. One of the more interesting aspects of my job at Capitol, was the fact that I wrote releases for both artists including Garth Brooks and Tanya Tucker, and for corporate, President Jimmy Bowen. That meant an inside seat at one of the most legendary artist/label head showdowns ever witnessed in Nashville.

I had moved to Nashville in 1983, after spending ten years as a magazine editor in Denver. It came as no surprise that to support my two children, I needed to do more than free lance writing for country music magazines. As I recall, Country Song Roundup paid about a hundred bucks an article. I worked closely with the CBS marketing department for several years, then became a staff writer for Steve Popovich at PolyGram before finally going to work for Cathy Gurley in 1990. In the years prior to Capitol I had written about and worked with artists ranging from Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe, Tanya Tucker, Donna Fargo, and Tammy Wynette. But those artists were all well established by the time that I met them. In 1990 Garth Brooks was just getting started, a decade-long phenomenon was unfolding.

During the summer and early fall of 2000 I revisited those years as we planned Garth’s celebration. The press requests and needed written material dealt primarily with sales statistics, awards, and other data involving the 1990s. But I found myself reflecting more on other aspects – the people who’d surrounded Garth, his songs and songwriting, touring, as well as his development as a performer, a star, and a businessman. I was also reminded on almost a daily basis of the way his career and persona had been applauded, but also analyzed, criticized, sliced, diced, and misconstrued. For one thing, Garth Brooks was no marketing mastermind when I first met him. For another, he had to figure out this celebrity thing as he went. It’s not an easy thing to do.

I always remembered something that happened during the years I worked with Johnny Cash. Johnny and I were working on some plans for his PolyGram album, Water From The Wells of Home. Lunch rolled around and very apologetically, Johnny asked me if I’d mind picking us up a couple of cheeseburgers from Brown’s Diner.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just not up to being Johnny Cash today,” Big John sighed.

I understood completely. For while Nashville is no stranger to celebrity, a Johnny Cash-sighting was an event that involved hand shaking, back slapping and autographing. We’d almost never been able to finish a lunch, and Johnny was required to act as though letting his food get cold was just what he’d hoped to do. Johnny was also the reason I understood why Garth would eventually refer to himself in the third person. There’s a difference between the star and the human being. Any celebrity who doesn’t figure that out, does so at their peril.

During the weeks of preparation for Garth’s 100 Million gala, he often stopped by the label. But in my conversations with him, the talk seldom turned to the event or the sales. It was a bittersweet time for Garth. He still deeply mourned the death of his mother, Colleen Brooks, and constantly worried about his friend Chris LeDoux’s health scare. But he was happy to talk about his three daughters and thrilled to be a part of their day-to-day life. And all it took was for me to yet again nag him about his need to make a honky tonk album to get him started reminiscing about fans, touring, and songs like “Papa Loved Mama” and “Longneck Bottle.”

And so, on the night of October 26th, 2000, while Capitol and EMI executives touted the numbers to several thousand attendants at Garth’s gala, I was thinking about the music that was behind those sales, and how the kid I met in 1990 had turned into an international icon.

(The photo of Garth and me on this page was taken by Dan Chadwick)

The Garth Factor

The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom will be released in May, 2009 from Center Street

Behind The Writing: This is a book about Garth Brooks’s career, and about celebrity, record labels, and creativity. While this book is often critical of the record business, I never heard Garth himself complain about the label or the executives – and yes, the press – who often so richly deserved a smackdown. He spoke of concerns from time to time, but I never heard him bitch. What I know about the label dealings comes from having been a part of that world, not from Garth.

I neither asked his permission to write this book nor did I ask him to participate. I told him what I was doing, and that was that. He never insisted on controlling what I wrote even when I was working for him. From the beginning of the book process, I firmly believed his involvement would taint what I had to say. So to any disgruntled executive or press person, remember that the voice and opinion here is mine.

I do show how he was portrayed in the press, because any star is known by what they’re told by the media. In Garth’s case, the press was at times fawning and at times vicious. The articles and interviews are referenced in the text or the addendum end notes.

Most of the long hours of conversation I spent with Garth Brooks over that ten-year period dealt with his music. So I deal with his albums at length. Most of the quotes connected with the albums are the ones he gave me for each album’s release. Because of that, the reader will get the feel of what the artist was thinking then, but also it may seem to some that they’ve read this or that statement before because some were widely reprinted. I also used some quotes in pieces written during 2005 for Garth’s website: http://www.garthbrooks.com/

Industry Comments:

"What a great inside look at Garth and the business! There's so much new stuff here it should set Music Row a-buzzing. And I really enjoyed all those stories behind the songs." (Ed Morris, former country music editor for Billboard )

“Patsi knows where all the bodies in Nashville are buried.” (Tanya Tucker)

“Having spent years working on Nashville’s Music Row, Patsi Bale Cox has an understanding of the industry and its personalities that is rare among writers. From the beginning she has been a close-up observer of Garth Brooks’s amazing career. This book is not only an enjoyable read. She also knows what she’s talking about.” (Allen Reynolds, Garth Brooks’s record producer)

“As a fan, friend of the artist, and analyst, Patsi Bale Cox makes the most of her opportunity to get inside the career of Garth Brooks and the country boom he helped create. She guides us through his songs and the often untold stories behind them. But most importantly, she probes the singer's relationship to the music industry and what she calls his ‘innate understanding that something was askew, something in the system.’” (Daniel Wolff, author of the Ralph J. Gleason award-winning biography, You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke.

“This is a fascinating read about the inner workings of the music business and the megastar who took country music to places it had never been. Garth Brooks’s honesty, passion, insistence on fairness, and the golden-rule standards he holds himself to make you wish you knew more people like him, and hope he keeps on outdoing himself. You will love this book.” (Donna Fargo, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/author)
UPDATE: GARTH APPROVES...backstage at the taping of the George Strait Artist of the Decade, Garth was asked if he knew there was new book coming out about him. When he asked who was writing it and they said, Patsi Bale Cox, Garth said, "If it's by Patsi, that will be a good one."

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