‘Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On’: Up close and personal
Anyone who has ever been to a Garth Brooks concert will tell you that this is a guy who clearly enjoys the heck out of performing.
That he’s done it for more than 30 years, through a lot of professional and personal highs and lows, and still retains an unabashed joy about his work is testament to his love of music and the audience’s love of him. And that comes through loud and clear in the two-part “Biography” documentary “Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On,” airing Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 2 and 3, on A&E Network.
Directed by Al Syzmanski (“The Season”), the four-hour film offers an intimate look at Brooks as a musician, man and father as well as the events that defined his long career and spurred him to write some of his biggest hits. Interviews with Brooks, wife and fellow country artist Trisha Yearwood, fellow artists Keith Urban, George Strait and James Taylor, former bandmate Ty England and songwriter Tony Arata, among others, along with archival footage of various moments in Brooks’ career help flesh out his story.
Much of it is told by Brooks himself directly to the camera as he recalls his early days playing to packed houses in Stillwater, Okla., where he attended Oklahoma State University on a track scholarship. After college and emboldened by his local success, he set off to Nashville to hit it big, only to turn right around after learning one local songwriter received only $700 for a hit song. Returning to the bar circuit in Stillwater, he would eventually hook up with a manager, Bob Doyle, who would shepherd the young performer into a deal with Capitol Records – and back to Nashville.
From there, things happened. There were hits such as “Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old),” “The Dance,” “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls.” And there were multiple awards, sell-out concert tours and triple platinum records. But there were also down times, such as his divorce from college sweetheart Sandy Mahl in 2000. Five years later, he would marry his longtime friend Yearwood.
Throughout the documentary, Brooks speaks soulfully about the people and moments of his life, at times moved to tears. What comes through is a guy with heart who thinks deeply and feels even more so – as one might expect of a great songwriter.