Ireland’s love for Garth Brooks is truly a curious phenomenon. With his huge Stetson hats, double-jean look and American “love-dovey” manners – he’s everything modern Ireland pretends not to like.
his country is known to behave coolly with celebrities, but that reservation seems to go right out the window for the country star.
Yesterday at a press conference in Croke Park in Dublin some media looked more like fans, with one even shouting, “I love you, Garth.
So why is it so big in Ireland? And although a tenth of the population bought tickets for the five concerts which unfortunately did not take place at Croke Park in 2014, why are so many Irish people puzzled by her popularity ?
One of the main reasons seems to be the rural-urban divide, with many Dubliners – like many other things – not fully understanding country life.
“Country music is huge outside of Dublin, and the Irish country music scene is massive all over Ireland except Dublin,” said music author and journalist Eddie Rowley. “I don’t know what disconnection is.”
Ireland’s obsession with the country singer – who said the 2014 debacle was ‘like death’ in his family – began when the showband era began to die out. This, coupled with a line dancing craze in the late 1980s, propelled Brooks to stardom in Ireland.
Music critic John Meagher said it was “a curious thing” that the Irish were so obsessed with the American megastar, but then again, its “everyone” vibe certainly appeals to rural Ireland.
“He’s spectacularly American and yet I think part of it is that he’s seen as not a city dweller, he’s not that sophisticated, knowledgeable kind of character from one of the big cities of the world. ‘America. He presents himself as the common man and there is a call to that.
“It’s a curious thing, Garth Brooks per capita doesn’t do anything like that in Britain, so it could be that old type of connection. [Ireland has] in America, whatever the reason. Country megastar also caters to almost all age groups, which the music critic says is extremely rare, with people buying tickets as Christmas gifts or families making a trip to Dublin together for the concert.
Priest and radio host Father Brian D’Arcy believes Brooks “A new sound for country music” was a big draw to Ireland, which during the boom tried to move away from old traditions while retaining its heritage.
“He has a special relationship with Ireland and always had it. I interviewed him in Nashville in 1992 before he came to Ireland and he said he promised his mother that his first show outside of America would be in Ireland, and it was.
In 1994, Brooks made his international debut playing eight nights at Dublin’s Point Depot, now known as 3Arena.
Three years later, he returned to play three nights at Croke Park, which had an NBC special release and DVD.
Mr. Rowley said there was still hype around the musician because of these concerts and many young people grew up listening to him because of their parents.
They have now become big fans themselves.
“He built it starting with The Point and then Croke Park, but it was a combination of good songs and his showmanship,” he explained. “His sense of spectacle is not country, it’s rock and roll, it’s a bit like Elvis Presley meets the Rolling Stones.
“People still listen to the songs. Thirty years after they got here, if you go to any pub in the country and they have a jukebox, there will be a Garth Brooks song. These songs are amazing and they are now part of our culture.
Father D’Arcy agreed, saying, “If you go to a wedding, there will be a Garth Brooks song. If you want to take the pulse of any nation, go to a wedding and see what alliances play because they know what bettors want, and you’ll always have Garth Brooks impersonators.
“The vibrancy of his music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I realize – but what is music?”