(Originally published January 2012)
We live in the same county. We are the same age. And for six days recently, the top-selling solo artist in U.S. history and I were in the same room.
My work assigned me to cover Garth Brooks’ civil trial. He had sued an Oklahoma City-area hospital, alleging it backed off a promise to name a women’s center after his late mother in exchange for a $500,000 donation.
We spoke to each other only during interviews. But spending nearly a week within whispering distance of someone, you learn quite a bit. Here’s what I took in about the man in the black hat.
His manners are impeccable.
If there was a door to be opened for someone, Brooks obliged. If a woman rose from his counsel table, he stood until she retook her seat. I sneezed a few times in court, and Brooks turned his head halfway around and said “bless you” under his breath.
He cherished his momma, Colleen, who died in 1999.
Brooks told jurors that of her six children, he was her favorite. The special bond was evident in his testimony but moreso in his actions. Getting over the death of a parent takes time.
Brooks chose to unearth those feelings in more than two years of litigation, enduring a deposition, two days on the witness stand and the glare of the media spotlight.
Every mother should be so loved.
Brooks is loyal to his fans.
Day after day, people made pilgrimages to the third-floor courtroom, as if waiting to be blessed by the Pope. During one recess, one man in an OU hoodie sauntered in, introduced himself and promptly said, “Would you do an old-time gospel album?”
They spoke for 10 minutes.
Brooks signed I-phones, shirts, guitars, newspapers, magazines, hats, the bottom of boots. Morning, noon and part of the night. For six days.
“I’m sorry to bother you again, Garth,” an older woman with another autograph request said to him.
“You’re not bothering me.”
On the afternoon of the final day of the trial, two men asked Brooks to sign their hats.
“Can we get your picture?” one said.
Brooks wrapped an arm around each of the men, who made a Garth sandwich.
“Good luck, Garth,” one told him.
“I’ll take it.”