Hard to believe that it’s been almost three decades since Garth Brooks crossed genre lines with an epic-for-the-times cover of “Shameless” by Billy Joel. But now, with the 30th anniversary of Joel’s original release of the track just around the corner, it’s worth reliving one of that cover’s biggest moments.
Back in 2008 — right in the middle of Brooks’ “retirement” from music — the country legend returned to the stage alongside Joel to commemorate the closing of New York City’s Shea Stadium. The historic home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, Shea would be demolished shortly after Joel’s star packed two-night show (captured for posterity on Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert), but before that happened Brooks helped knock “Shameless” out of the park one last time.
Brooks famously turned the lovestruck ’70s power ballad into a pure-country anthem in 1991, taking it all the way to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart. But with Joel and his band at the Country Music Hall of Famer’s back, his rendition at Shea pulled out all the rock ‘n’ roll stops. Soulful backup singing, pounding drums, blazing-but-smooth electric guitar solos and Joel’s piano joined Brooks’ down-home vocal, creating one of the most memorable version of the song to date. And who could forget Brooks big-city wardrobe? A baseball uniform and rodeo-style belt buckle have never looked so good.
“Shameless” was originally released as part of Joel’s Storm Front album — 30 years ago this October.