Garth Brooks may be a Man Against Machine, but the machine certainly isn’t against him — for the second week in a row, the pride of Oklahoma tops the Billboard Country Albums chart, proving that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder. It had been since 2001 that Brooks released a record of all new material, but he’s having no trouble reclaiming the throne from newer stars like Florida Georgia Line and Sam Hunt. Man Against Machine debuted last week with 130,000 units sold and this week moved 62,000.
To add to the momentum, Brooks’ new single “Mom,” a sweet acoustic ballad from the perspective of God to an unborn child, is currently the most added song on country radio. Brooks debuted the track on Good Morning America and has openly admitted in the audio notes on his GhostTunes digital-music service that it makes him pretty teary-eyed: “When God describes what a mom is, I weep uncontrollably every time,” he says.
Brooks was set to continue the promotional tour for Man Against Machine this week, including an appearance on the Thanksgiving episode of The Tonight Show, but opted to cancel in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following a grand jury’s decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. “We landed in NY last night to the news of the civil unrest that was going on in our nation,” Brooks wrote on his Facebook page. “To spend the day promoting our stuff like nothing was wrong, seemed distasteful to me. I will gladly reschedule any or all appearances the networks will allow. Love one another.”
The comeback king has never been shy about voicing his opinions on world events or even politics — he’s openly supported President Barack Obama, championed gay rights and encouraged his fan base to take a more open, inclusive approach to life. “People Loving People,” the first single off Man Against Machine, is a veritable country take on Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World,” where he lobs heavy phrases like “words aren’t what they seem to be/talk is cheap but lies are free” to an anthemic build.
Replacing Brooks on The Tonight Show tomorrow will be Whoopi Goldberg, who no doubt will speak directly to the Brown case when she sits down with Jimmy Fallon. But Brooks isn’t the only country artist to have the events in Missouri affect his schedule. Hunter Hayes canceled a November 20th performance in St. Louis after the governor declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury’s decision.