"Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books,
maybe it's the government and all the other crooks..."
RIGHT NOW IS 1984
Right Now was the closest that Garth had ever come to recording a protest song.
"I try to never get politically involved in anything because politics are all screwed up.
I just got sick of the news one night.
I guess I just got tired of it."
watch Garth Brooks -- Right Now, video
In 1999 super-star country-and-western singer Garth Brooks (under the alias "Chris Gaines") made a rock-and-roll album that sold over a million copies and a couple of the songs -- including RIGHT NOW -- made it to the top of the pop charts.
At some point, shortly after I'd created the ORWELL TODAY website in 2001, I heard the song and was blown away by the lyrics -- and the music video -- which powerfully convey exactly the kind of world Orwell is describing in 1984. At that time I transcribed the lyrics and posted the video in the POEMS & SONGS section of the website. See COME ON PEOPLE RIGHT NOW
That was about fifteen years ago -- it now being February 2017 -- and it's been about that long since I've listened to the song -- and actually, I'd forgotten about it. But recently I've been reminded because Garth Brooks is in the middle of a world-wide tour and there's been massive news coverage of his sold-out concerts -- and some reviewers have been talking about his Chris Gaines days and his old hit RIGHT NOW.
Below I've scanned and transcribed excerpts from coverage and interviews where Garth Brooks explains how it came to be that he came to be alter-ego Chris Gaines and -- in that persona -- created, in my opinion, the greatest protest song of the 20th century -- an Orwellian anthem for the 21st.
All the best,
watch Garth Brooks music video Right Now, DownVids.Net
watch Right Now, by Steve Howard (as Garth Brooks), YouTube
watch The Youngbloods -- Everybody Get Together, YouTube
watch Garth Brooks explains "Right Now" and Chris Gaines, YouTube
watch Interview with Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood (In Defence of Garth Brooks' Ill-Received 1999 Alter Ego Chris Gaines), by Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal, Feb 22, 2017
As the announcements for Garth Brooks' Edmonton shows stacked up in December, I noticed a strange, rather stale remora attaching itself repeatedly to the news on social media. In the comments below the Facebook posts, whenever someone didn't notice it'd already been done several times, another not-so-fresh Chris Gaines joke or jab would materialize. In the midst of the ongoing Garth wave of concerts, this is happening in person, too. Some are playful enough -- "Is he going to play only Chris Gaines songs?". But many are outright hissy about Brooks' 1999 musical experiment, a strange, I'd say daring, moment when he took on the alter ego of an Australian-born pop star for an album of fictional "greatest hits" in the form of actual studio songs. Brooks' original Gaines concept was tied to a film called The Lamb that never came to be, and he even appeared on Saturday Night Live in character, all in black. The invented Gaines charted on Billboard, this time for real, with two of his songs -- including in the Top 5 with Lost in You. And the album sold literally millions of copies. Nonetheless, "I got the s--t kicked out of me for that", Brooks responded in person when I brought it up as an interesting art stunt. He explained he'd originally recorded demos for the film, but when Paramount realized it was his singing, they asked him to fill in the role", Brooks laughs, "I was stupid enough to say, 'Yeah! I'll do that!". "Now, so many years later, and so many bruised ribs later...(but) that was a lot of fun to do. That was a cool project". Still, face to face, you get the feeling Brooks maybe wishes people would stop bringing it up. I can't imagine he'd necessarily hope for an entire article written about a 17-year-old project when he's got a new album to promote, either. Fact is, though, people to this day keep unearthing Gaines with a sneer, so perhaps it's time to draw a line in the sand when it comes to making the same unoriginal joke over and over again -- at least Brooks tried something new.... And none of this is to say that Gaines doesn't have his dedicated fans to this day, myself included. As Trisha Yearwood said to me with a smile last week, the Gaines experiment is "probably my favourite Garth Brooks album ever. I love that record, and I'm glad you do, too".
Brooks' love cauldron has fans two-stepping in the aisles, by Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal, Feb 21, 2017
Deafening, hilarious and mould-shattering, the never-ending Garth Brooks World Tour is a must see -- the pinnacle of that thing we called hot country, down to the singer's onstage connection with his wife Trisha Yearwood still burning strong. The first of nine Edmonton shows Friday night was the best date night in town, two-stepping in the aisles, a church-like "love one another" under every raised (and spilled) $12 pint. Feeling alone was technically impossible in this love cauldron.... The 55 year-old-Brooks is a living cartoon of enthusiasm, one of the most connected showmen I've ever seen.... Brooks listed off a set of rules, including that he'd be playing cowboy songs, drinking songs and that, starting with Baby, Let' Lay Down and Dance, Rodeo and Two of a Kind, the night was going to be about the oldies....
Garth's concerts offer audience a brief respite from worldly woes, Edmonton Journal, Feb 18, 2017
Introducing his first run of shows in Edmonton in more than 20 years, American country super-star Garth Brooks gave a big and humble hello to Edmonton.... The singer noted his five-millionth ever concert ticket was sold in Edmonton -- every million he gives away a greater batch of prizes, including vehicles and trips...
There's a lot more to Garth Brooks than hit songs and gold records, by Tom Murray, Edmonton Journal, Feb 16, 2017
From new traditionalist to pop-country juggernaut, Garth Brooks looms over the country music genre like nobody else before or since. He made nary a commercial misstep in his journey through the musical ranks, outright owning the 1990s with a series of albums that not only changed counry music, but also changed the way everyone viewed country music. Even his fumbles were successful. When he decided to reinvent himself as fictitious rock singer Chris Gaines in 1999 with an album, mockumentary and (unproduced) theatrical film, he still managed to sell two million records and score a couple of minor hits on the pop charts. For anyone else this would be cause for celebration, but for Brooks, it was an early indication the shine was coming off his career. By the time he released Scarecrow in 2001, he'd decided the time was ripe to withdraw. By then, he'd sold well over 100 million albums, become the bestselling solo artist of all time in the United States, and slipped in just behind the Beatles for total albums sold. What more was there to do? Brooks popped up now and again through the decade to announce releases of box sets and play sporadic shows, but by and large, he kept quiet, instead concentrating on family life and a new marriage in 2005 to fellow singer-songwriter Trisha Yearwood. A 1999 residency in Las Vegas led to him releasing a covers album through Walmart, and spurred him to announce a new album, Man Against Machine, and a world tour in 2014. Now he's back with Gunslinger, released at the tail end of last year, and while the album hasn't signalled a return to the intense Brooksmania of yesteryear, it's done respectable business on the charts and laid the groundwork for his current tour, where tickets sold have indicated just how beloved he remains among fans...
17 Years Ago: Garth Brooks Hosts 'Saturday Night Live' with Chris Gaines, by Gayle Thompson, TheBoot, Nov 13, 2016
Seventeen years ago today, on November 13, 1999, Garth Brooks performed double duty on NBC's Saturday Night Live. The singer served as the host of the show, while his alter ego, Chris Gaines, performed as the musical guest... Brooks' appearance on Saturday Night Live came less than two months after the September 28 release of his album GARTH BROOKS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIS GAINES. The record was originally intended to be part of a movie, THE LAMB, which was to be released on Brooks' own Red Strokes Entertainment, with the country superstar taking on the leading role. The Oklahoma native released GARTH BROOKS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIS GAINES to generate publicity for the movie, which centered around a musician conflicted about what style of music he wanted to pursue, all under the public's watchful scrutiny. Unfortunately for Brooks, The Lamb never materialized, and the record was not nearly as successful as his previous ones, selling just over 2 million copies -- a far cry from his 1997 Sevens album, which achieved diamond status, signifying sales in excess of 10 million units.
watch Mockumentary: Chris Gaines (Garth Brooks) Behind the Music, VHI/YouTube (starting at 37:30)
"... As 1999 got underway Chris decided to take stock of his career by releasing a Greatest Hits package... A sign of Chris's growing maturity could be found in a new track on the Greatest Hits album. RIGHT NOW was the closest that Chris had ever come to recording a protest song... "I try to never get politically involved in anything because politics are all screwed up... I just got sick of the news one night... I guess I just got tired of it". It was a song that talked about social responsibility and how if we really all don't pull together, we don't stand a prayer.... "The truth is, love is the answer, as corny as that sounds, love is the answer"...
Chris Gaines is a fictional rock star persona created as an alter ego for Garth Brooks, Wikipedia
In 1999, Brooks and his production company Red Strokes Entertainment, with Paramount Pictures, began to develop a movie in which Brooks would star. THE LAMB was to have revolved around Chris Gaines, a fictional rock singer and his emotionally conflicted life as a musician in the public eye. To create buzz for the project, Brooks took on the identity of Gaines in the October 1999 album GARTH BROOKS IN THE LIFE OF CHRIS GAINES, which was intended as a 'pre-soundtrack' to the film. Brooks also subsequently appeared as Gaines in a television "mockumentary" for the VH1 series Behind the Music and as the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live, which he hosted as himself. This was not just a departure from Garth Brooks usual material but meant to be an all encompassing "greatest hits" album spanning the career of Chris Gaines, which would later play out on the big screen. Brooks' promotion of the album and the film did not seem to stir much excitement and the lack of success of the Chris Gaines experiment became fairly evident mere weeks after the album was released. The album received mixed reviews, and fan response was often bewilderment. Although the album made it to #2 on the pop album chart, expectations had been higher and retail stores began heavily discounting their oversupply. Less than expected sales of the album (more than two million) and no further developments in the production of the film as a result brought the project to an indefinite hiatus in February 2001 and Gaines quickly faded into obscurity. Despite the less than spectacular response to the Chris Gaines project, Brooks gained his first -- and only -- US Top 40 pop single in "Lost in You", the first single from the album. Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music speculated that the alternate persona and elaborate marketing scheme backfired, writing, "When Brooks' new persona and his album were revealed to the public, they were unforgiving -- they didn't think he was playing a role, they simply thought he'd lost his mind." However, Erlewine gave the album a 3-out-of-5 stars rating and in the same review later writes "Judged as Brooks' first pop album, it's pretty good, and if it had been released that way, it likely would have been embraced by a wide audience."
23.The Proles (If there was hope, it must lie in the proles because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.... Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it? And yet--!...)
RIGHT NOW IS 1984
watch Right Now -- Garth Brooks listen
Defending Garth Brooks' alter ego Chris Gaines
EdmontonJournal/DownVids, Feb 25, 2017
& COME ON PEOPLE RIGHT NOW
& 23.The Proles
For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield
Eve of Destruction, Barry McGuire
watch FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, by Bufallo Springfield, 1967, YouTube
watch EVE OF DESTRUCTION, by Barry McGuire, 1965, YouTube
BYE, BYE AMERICAN PIE and BYE BYE AMERICA'S APPLE PIE
POEMS & SONGS
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