12: In Pieces (Garth Brooks)

Album: In Pieces
Artist: Garth Brooks
Year: 1993

1. Standing Outside the Fire
2. The Night I Called the Old Man Out
3. American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
4. One Night a Day
5. Kickin’ and Screamin’
6. Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
7. The Red Strokes
8. Callin’ Baton Rouge
9. The Night Will Only Know
10. The Cowboy Song

Let me start out by saying that this is some of the best cover art I’ve seen for a country music album.

Garth was already the most popular country artist ever before In Pieces and this album turned him into a freaking legend. Ain’t Goin’ Down was liked across genres and in one live show he was suspended from wires, flying through the stadium while a ring of pyrotechnics exploded all around him. There’s a reason he won Entertainer of the Year more than once.

What’s so impressive about this album is the wide range of emotionally resonating subjects he sings about. The Night I Called the Old Man Out is about the singer and his brothers getting pissed at their dad and getting into physical brawls with him.  The Night Will Only Know is about a couple witnessing a murder but not going to the police about it to hide their affair. Standing Outside the Fire is a fairly generic song about standing up for what you believe in, but the music video places it in the context of Down’s Syndrome and it makes the song all the more powerful.

The ballads are universally powerful. One Night a Day is a showcase for Garth’s voice with only a piano in the background. The Red Strokes was very popular and also had a pretty awesome music video. The Cowboy Song is a simple campfire song but a very pretty lullaby.

The only reason this album isn’t in the top five is American Honky-Tonk Bar Association. It exploded up the charts, and it has a pretty catchy tune. But it’s the only song of Garth’s that offends me as it takes multiple shots at welfare recipients. Garth is one of the more liberal country singers ever, so it’s sad that this unnecessary drudge stains his discography.

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