26 Years Ago: Garth Brooks Releases ‘In Pieces’
On Aug. 31, 1993, Garth Brooks released his fifth studio album, In Pieces. The record arrived less than a year after Brooks released his blockbuster album The Chase, which was still churning out hits well into 1993.
Naturally, In Pieces picks up right where The Chase leaves off: The first single, the upbeat and raucous "Ain't Going Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)," hit No. 1. Brooks co-wrote the song with Kim Williams and Kent Blazy — on the latter's back porch, no less, he reveals in the liner notes to The Hits.
"We wanted to write something that was a lot of fun, for no other reason than just that, fun," Brooks explains. ""Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)" is what we came up with. Kent and [his wife] Sharon had just moved into their new home and this was the first song we had ever written at their house."
The follow-up single, "American Honky-Tonk Bar Association," also hit No. 1, and although Brooks calls it "one of the livelier moments in our live show," it's more of a slow-burning, honky-tonk-inspired number with swinging piano, jaunty fiddle and a twangy groove. Even livelier, however, is the stomping bluegrass nod "Callin' Baton Rouge," a Brooks setlist staple to this day that was first popularized by the Oak Ridge Boys. That tune landed at No. 2.
This carefree and upbeat tone was no accident, as Brooks shared later: "In Pieces was just time to smile. It was time to laugh, it was time to get loud. It's definitely the most live album that we've ever cut," he explains. "I think the band went to a different level on this. They seemed to play more like a band that had been together for years than studio musicians that come together and play at time to time. So this one is all there for me. I like to listen to it loud."
However, that doesn't mean In Pieces is all surface. "The Cowboy Song" -- Brooks' favorite song on the album, he says -- is a touching ode to the titular man, and a defense of a rough and rugged lifestyle. And "Standing Outside the Fire," written with Jenny Yates, is a song that encourages people to get uncomfortable and push outside of their comfort zone, with the hopes of reaping great rewards: "Life is not tried, it is merely survived / If you're standing outside the fire."
"In a conversation, I was describing something that I thought was really close, but for me it just stood outside the fire," Brooks says in The Hits' liner notes. "There was that brilliant moment of silence when we just looked at each other and smiled. Within an hour and half, this song was written."
All told, In Pieces spawned five Top 10 hits and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the country charts. It's been certified platinum eight times over.
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