Garth Brooks is keeping the tune that he will perform at the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards tomorrow night a secret, but he tells Rolling Stone Country that the evening will be a very emotional one, even outside of his song selection.
The reason: Brooks will debut a guitar given to him by Buck Owens the night he asked Trisha Yearwood to marry him at Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California, in May 2005. The two married in December of that year.
“The night I was proposing to my wife, he brought me a red, white and blue Telecaster, a Buck Telecaster. It’s the first time I’ve broken it out and am going to play it [Sunday night],” Brooks says.
After sitting in its case for 10 years, the Telecaster won’t go back into mothballs after its inaugural outing. “We’re going to take it out on the road with us,” Brooks says. “We’re going to take the plate off it so I don’t lose the inscription that [Buck] did himself and put another pickguard on it.”
Earlier this week, Brooks told SiriusXM’s Storme Warren that he had already prerecorded a live version of his performance for Sunday in case his voice wasn’t up to par after wrapping a five-show stint in Portland, Oregon, Thursday night. On Saturday, Brooks said he still hadn’t made a decision whether to sing live. “It’s going to come right down to the wire because I didn’t think I had a voice at the [Lifting Lives] gala last night, and it was there, so we’ll see how it goes. Either way the track’s not going to be perfect. For one, I can’t do perfect, it’s just not in my DNA. The track, even if we’re lip-syncing, is as live as it gets.”
Brooks will receive a Milestone Award Sunday for the most ACM Entertainer of the Year wins for any artist, but his top ACM memories are for the performances, not the trophies. Favorite moment? “Probably playing [‘Fever’] with [Chris] LeDoux and Charlie Daniels [in 1997], but you got to remember, man, I got to do a tribute to Dick Clark with George Strait [in 2013]. Those are two men I worship and adore, right along with LeDoux and Daniels, so I’ve got a lot of good memories here.”
As far as victories, it’s the trophies for the music that stand out, including video wins for “The Dance” and “We Shall Be Free.” “Any time the music is honored in that way, especially songs that for me are all about love, then I like that stuff,” Brooks says.