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Garth Brooks Picks Top 3 Songs (1996)

Three of the best for Garth

Originally published in the Apr. 16, 1996, issue of Country Weekly featuring George Jones on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.

“That’s a tough one,” Garth Brooks admitted after Country Weekly asked the superstar for his favorite country song. “You’ve got to remember that I’m three or four different guys.”

So Garth, the fan/entertainer/songwriter, chose a song for each personality.

“There are three country songs that I can think of right now that mean the world to me for three different reasons,” he said.

Now launching his 1996 tour with sellout after sellout, Garth took time to list those songs for Country Weekly and explain the reason why.

“My favorite country song of all time is Cal Smith’s ‘Country Bumpkin,’ ” said Garth, saluting the No. 1 smash by his fellow Oklahoma native. The bouncy ballad spent 15 weeks on the Billboard chart back in 1974, winning Country Music Association Single of the Year honors for Smith and the Song of the Year Award for writer Don Wayne.

“That is the quintessential country song,” praised the top-selling solo act in music business history. “I love it. I just love that tune.”

Then there’s the song that had the biggest impact on Garth’s life. “ ‘Unwound’ by George Strait, for me, is the one that turned my life around,” commented Garth, who idolizes Strait. “Unwound” became Strait’s first chart record, reaching No. 6 in 1981 and propelling George’s remarkable career into the history books. The song was written by two of Strait’s favorite songwriters, Dean Dillon and Frank Dycus.

“That song is what made me realize what I wanted to do with my life,” added Garth, who even planned to name his third child Strait if the unborn baby had been a boy.

Garth, who is getting more heavily involved in songwriting, also has a favorite from the writer’s perspective.

“There’s the one when you sit down as a writer and you shoot for this saying, ‘This is the all-time greatest-written country song.’ That song is ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ ”

This 1980 No. 1 hit for George Jones spent 18 weeks on the charts, winning a CMA Award for Single of the Year. The heart-wrenching tearjerker won CMA Song of the Year awards for its writers—Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman—for two consecutive years: 1980 and 1981.

“Country Bumpkin,” “Unwound” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” “Wow,” Garth said, shaking his head, almost in disbelief at the power and quality of his three favorite songs. “Those three will do me well.”

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