A Refresher Course at the Ryman: Why Garth Brooks Is in the Running for Entertainer of the Year

Mark Tucker

If you weren’t lucky enough to be part of the invitation-only crowd for Garth Brook’s first-ever concert at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, there’s still hope you’ll be able to experience the historic night for yourself. Before the current Entertainer of the Year nominee ever took the stage Thursday night, camera crews were in place to capture the show for an as-yet-unannounced special.

Prior to the curtain rising, Garth walked on stage with only a guitar, explaining how hard a time he’d had deciding how to start his set, before seguing into snippets of many of his options. First there was Cal Smith’s “Country Bumpkin, ” then George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” and Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

The Oklahoma native then delivered a tribute to Dolly Parton, singing an a capella version of her signature “I Will Always Love You,” that had more in common with Whitney Houston’s rendition than Dolly’s. From there, it was Randy Travis’s “I Told You So” and Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”

Chris Young and Nashville’s Charles Esten were just some of the celebrities in the house as the curtain rose to reveal Garth’s band and begin an epic on-your-feet sing-along of his hits, interrupted only by an appearance from the woman Mr. Brooks refers to as “The Queen.”

Trisha Yearwood joined her husband for a smoldering version of their hit duet “In Another’s Eyes,” followed by her own “Walkaway Joe.” The two then debuted a new collaboration they recorded only a few days ago that brought to mind the classic chemistry of Jones and Tammy Wynette. “Whiskey to Wine” is likely to be included on Garth’s next album, due sometime this fall.

Here’s the complete set list for Garth’s first stop at the Mother Church of Country Music:

“Friends in Low Places” 
“Two of a Kind (Workin’ on a Full House)”
“The River”
“Two Pina Coladas”
“Unanswered Prayers”
“That Summer”
“The Thunder Rolls”
“In Another’s Eyes” (with Trisha Yearwood)
“Walkaway Joe” (Trisha Yearwood)
“Whiskey to Wine” (with Trisha Yearwood)
“Papa Loved Mama”
“Callin’ Baton Rouge”
“The Dance”
“Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”
“Every Time that It Rains”
“In Lonesome Dove”
“Longneck Bottle”
“Standing Outside the Fire”

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