Garth Brooks says every new presidential administration has themes, including new beginnings and new starts, but he perceives the new Joe Biden administration’s theme to be love.
“We’re all together in this one,” said Brooks during a press conference Monday (January 18). He will perform during the inauguration portion of the festivities surrounding President-elect Biden’s term as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday (January 20). “You can’t take only the extreme left or right, it’s going to take all of us. These people who are screaming loud and we are rolling our eyes, take the time to listen to them. You don’t have to believe what they say, but we need to listen. If you don’t, you are turning deaf ears to voices in America. Listen to all of them, and then make the best decision you can.”
Brooks went on to say, “I would say that we are more divided than ever, so unity will be the bridge that brings us together. I’d like to see us heal… loving one another because that is what is going to get us through the most divided times we have ever had. I want the divided times to be behind us. I want to be able to give an opinion and then be able to hug each other.”
Garth said it is a real honor to be asked to perform at the inauguration. He also performed at President Obama’s ceremony in 2014. “This is a great day in our household, this is not a political statement,” he affirms. “This is a statement of unity. I’m excited, nervous — all the good things. This is history and it is an honor to get to serve. My father served in the US Marine, my brothers were in the Air Force and Army. Now it’s my chance to get to serve and it will be an honor.”
During Monday’s press conference, Brooks shared one of his favorite quotes from Martin Luther King. “I love this quote from one of Martin’s books – ‘An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.’ It is a beautiful day for that. You can say that today of all days, but tomorrow and the day after also.”
Garth said he has always welcomed all people to his concerts and that will never change. “You must rise beyond black or white, gay and straight, male or female, and look at what is going on from above, look at us as America. That’s always kind of been my thing. You are all welcome at a Garth Brooks concert. The whole mission at one of my concerts is for people who come and watch the show to leave loving each other more than when they came in. That’s never going to change for me.”
Brooks talked about his hit song, “We Shall Be Free,” which he co-wrote with Stephanie Davis, after being asked how he views the song today as opposed to how he saw it when it was written and released in 1992.
“That song is more relevant today than it was a decade ago,” Brooks said. “More relevant today than it was released. There is good and bad to that observation because the song talks about the injustices and righting the wrongs — it looks like we will do this the rest of our existence. I want to spend the next 10 years of my life not divided.”
Brooks recalled March of last year when he received the Gershwin Award. “You play for Congress, and you’re worried about there being left and right in attendance. I watched them dance together, laugh together, sing and cry together. You couldn’t tell which one was for which party. That is the hope, and I believe that is the Voice of Music speaking.”
Brooks is no stranger when it comes to being among the company of presidents. In addition to the Obama inaugural, he has played for ever president since Jimmy Carter except Ronald Reagan, including President Trump. He was there for President Clinton’s The Concert of the Century in 1999 and was the recipient in 2019 of the inaugural award for Caring and Compassion, awarded by George H.W. Bush’s organization, Points of Light, a global nonprofit dedicated to accelerating people-powered change.
Regarding what happened in Washington, D.C. on January 13, Brooks said, “It was disturbing, it was sad. We are the human race, so I’m always gonna find sunny sides in there. The fact is we do make choices very much on the spur of the moment. I deal in music, I deal in raw emotions, that’s what music is all about. I think you saw the human race at a time that, for me as a person, reflected some other country’s headline, if that makes any sense. But it happened here and all I can do is beg and plead for everybody to take that second and that moment and think about your family, think about the mark you are going to leave on this planet as a human being and the children that you raise. Then make your decisions. Now you deal with what happened and take responsibility and we do our best to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.”
Brooks will perform solo during the inauguration ceremony. “It will be broken down, the barebones stuff that allows the music to come through and speak. I enjoy taking a backseat to that.
“I try to remember my job is simple, and when they call you to sing, you get to do what I was put here for. This Celebration in an honorable day where the new president takes over. It’s a beautiful day for hope for the future. It’s a tribute to those people who dedicate their lives for this country. Past presidents, future presidents. The least I can do is grab my guitar and sing for them, get up there and play. I consider it the greatest honor I’ve ever had.”