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.