It’s a tradition in the Williams family to buy two copies of any new Garth Brooks record the day it comes out, and the new Garth Brooks Anthology II book is no exception.
From cover to cover, A-II is a roller coaster ride of the “next 5 years” of Garth Brooks’ career, spanning the hits of the mid to late 90’s and early 2000’s.
As a songwriter, I can say that this time around 2000-2002 is my initiation by fire into the small but mighty circle of people lucky enough to work with Garth.
In the mid-90s where the book begins, Garth sets off on a hero’s journey of sorts to reclaim his right to create and put out music as he saw fit.
Interwoven with stories behind the songs and interviews are these little slice of life vignettes of behind the scenes splashes of what it was like to be the artist during that tumultuous time.
Hand-written lyrics (some in my daddy’s handwriting) show the songwriting process first hand, scratched out lines and all, are printed in Anthology II that reads like a picture book for grown-ups in the best possible way.
I would be lying if I didn’t divulge, the first thing I did when I ripped open the package was to turn to the page where he talks about me as a cowriter on the George Jones duet “Beer Run.”
Here’s what he said:
“G: Kim Williams sends me a song called “Beer Run.” Enter Amanda Williams, Kim’s daughter. And I’m thinking since she’s one of the writers on it, he’s just helping his daughter out like a dad does. Then you see she’s more bullheaded than her father, has her own opinions… She’s working her … off, doing her thing…”
He goes on to talk about the fun he and Kent and Dad had writing the song to make it align with his vision of the George Jones anthem it is today.
I have my own recollections of how that song came to be, and of course, to each his own as we end up fighting over the same elephant, but I can say that this song is among those of which I’m most proud in my catalog.
It kicked open the doors for me to the Nashville music publishing world, and gave me the opportunity to join the ranks of the Garth Brooks songwriter.
It was an honor to read the quote on page 247 when producer Allen Reynolds said about the song, “It might be the best George Jones vocal I’ve ever heard.”
The song was nominated for a Grammy® that year as Best Country Vocal Collaboration, and was among the last records ever released by George Jones.
As a country songwriter, I’m more than proud to have had my first big commercial success to have been “Beer Run,” duet with two of the most iconic male vocalists to ever grace the genre, George Jones and Garth Brooks.
Coming back to Earth and reading the book cover to cover, I am convinced that any up and coming music artist, songwriter or music business person would serve themselves well to read and study Anthology II as a text in creative entrepreneurship.
Garth climbed to the top with his talent and his team, but he stayed on top by remaining true to who he is as an artist, while keeping his commitments to family and children.
The book shows never before seen photos of award shows, back yard cowriting sessions, studio behind the scenes, and tour sound checks.
For the aspiring touring crew member, the book even details a minute by minute breakdown of how to load in, sound check and load out a full Garth Brooks arena show complete with after work activities (spoiler - it’s beer, pizza and off to bed.)
As is typical of Garth, the songwriters, musicians and behind the scenes crew are front and center in this book Anthology II.
Hear from country legend Steve Wariner what it was like to tell his opening act, Garth, that he needed to switch spots and be the opening act for him… and what Garth did.
Learn how the tracking process happens in the recording studio with genius songman producer Allen Reynolds and the world famous G-men recording studio musicians.
Sit down on the balcony of Garth’s hotel room while songwriter Jenny Yates works through an idea with line upon line of creative lyrical inspiration.
Roll in the floor with Garth, Kim Williams, Kent Blazy and his wonder dog Sophie while they laugh themselves to death writing two songs at once – “Cowboys and Angels” and “It’s Midnight Cinderella.”
Stand in line for 24-hours straight signing autographs and learn the secret of Garth’s marathon Fan Fair no bathroom break meet and greet of ’96.
Garth Brooks The Anthology Part II: the Next Five Years puts you right in the middle of the action and takes you behind the scenes where you can see the churning gears and beating heart of a great American artist.
The book also comes with six CDs of music. That’s 60 songs (one of them co-written by me and six by my dad).
Get your two copies and give one to a friend who needs a little inspiration this holiday season. Click through to link to Garth Brooks Official Store on Talk Shop Live.
Here's a version of Dad and Garth's cowrite "Papa Loved Mama" from my Appalachia Kid album. Thanks for stopping by. Please keep in touch.