I’ve got friends in Mile High places

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 6/11/19

I was there. Yes, I was at the Garth Brooks concert last weekend. If you would have asked me 20 years ago if I could ever imagine spending the kind of money it took to get tickets, so I could see …

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I’ve got friends in Mile High places

Posted

I was there. Yes, I was at the Garth Brooks concert last weekend.

If you would have asked me 20 years ago if I could ever imagine spending the kind of money it took to get tickets, so I could see somebody perform a whole bunch of songs everybody already knows with 84,000 of my closest friends, I would have said “no” before you were done asking the question. But, there we were.

For the record, the concert was everything you would expect from a giant spectacle like this. All the songs you know, back to back to back, for over two hours (which, by the way, should not be discounted — Garth is not a young man and he does not live at altitude, so…). Some groups, when you hear them live, are a bit of a disappointment; they have, how shall we say this ... pitch variances from what you’ve come to expect. As such, groups like this tend to have giant circus shows, to distract you. Not Garth. The music was front and center, and it was really, really good. And, then on top of that, there was some very cool lighting and crowd effects.

The concert was fully recorded, and he will be releasing a “Live” album soon—in the Fall, I think he said, and Garth spoke at one point about why he wanted to do this particular concert, in this particular location. He said part of it was his loyalty to the city of Denver, because the Grizzly Rose was one of the first places that “let” him play, back before he was an overnight success.

Think about that for a second. It’s almost impossible to imagine a time that the name “Garth Brooks” wasn’t synonymous with country music, and trying to picture him having to, basically, beg a small venue in Denver for the chance to play there live is inconceivable. And it got me thinking.

We all know the songs — even if you’re not a country music fan, “Friends in Low Places” is practically mandatory music at parties and weddings. And, I can tell you this: I don’t think anybody in the world has quite as much fun at their job as Garth Brooks. And what’s not fun? 84,000 people screaming for you and singing along with your every lyric.

But, it wasn’t always that way. Begging the Grizz for a chance to play? How many hours travelling from his birthplace in Tulsa, in station wagons and VW busses, to play a small venue here, a small bar there, maybe one of the early afternoon acts at Cheyenne Frontier Days? How much time picking over the tiniest detail of a lyric, or a chord progression? Not to mention finding a way to work with the other musicians travelling with you.

We’re not the easiest bunch to work with, let me tell you.

I don’t begrudge a penny of what I spent for that concert, and let me tell you why. Those two hours of fun and play represent thousands upon thousands of hours of work. For every four minutes of actual song, the words that get in to your soul and the music that shapes them, there are a hundred hours of crafting, experimenting, and practicing, built on top of hundreds of hours of piano lessons and guitar lessons and mundane little tasks that make the rest of it possible.

Garth Brooks is amazing — he’s the pinnacle. But, somewhere beneath the pinnacle, every night, in dozens of locations all around the city (ahem, Arvada Center, cough cough), there are other people putting in that grind, that effort, that passion. Go see them, too. I know we all love to listen to our iPhones, recordings that have been picked over and engineered and perfected. But, if you want to really see greatness in its building phase, go see live music and dance and theater. And remember that those two hours of entertainment for you are a lifetime of love from the performers.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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