The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Confession

Much like Usher, I too have a confession. I like the "Chris Gaines" album. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain it to you...or refresh your memory. You might have heard of this curious little album by a recording super star.

For reasons unknown, country singer Garth Brooks decided to take on another persona, i.e. pop star Chris Gaines, and then proceeded to make up an entire history for Gaines, including a massively successful recording career up to that point. He even got VH1 to make a mockumentary Behind the Music about Chris Gaines' life. This was all supposed to lead up to a movie about Chris Gaines' life, called The Lamb. The movie was in the works, as evidenced by article on CNN.com, but it never happened because Chris Gaines' Greatest Hits failed horribly on the charts.

Time and time again, the famous try to branch away from what they are successful at. Musicians try to be actors. Actors try to become musicians. Professional atheletes try to be actors or musicians. With very few exceptions, they all fail. Garth Brooks didn't leave the music industry, but he still went away from his money-maker: country music.

His country music fans liked....well, country music. Perhaps they felt a bit betrayed by the man they had made into the most successful solo recording artist of all time. For whatever reason, they didn't by his pop album. And people who liked pop had no interest in seeing Garth Brooks as some bizarre made up character named Chris Gaines. Especially not a Garth Brooks (yes, that's him) made up to look like a Chris Gaines who looked like this:




And this:




And lord help us all, like this:




Even more bizarre to me than the fact that Brooks made up this person was that he made up parts of music history. To me, I can imagine putting a character into the real world and creating a biography for him. Perhaps because that is what novels and movies do: they put fake people into the "real" world, more or less. But Brooks took it a step further. One of the songs on the CD is called, "It Don't Matter to the Sun," and in the linear notes (where "Chris Gaines" explains why he "wrote" all of these songs), it is revealed that "It Don't Matter to the Sun" is supposed to be a "re-make of the Ramsey Sellers 1972 classic." Huh? I mean, what is the point of that? Why not just re-make a real 1972 classic? Or just include the song as one written by Gaines?

But despite all the strangeness and oddity of this album, I must confess that....I like it. I really, really like it. I bought it back in 1999 when it first came out. I don't know why. I'm not a Garth Brooks fan. I guess I was just drawn to the preposterousness of the Chris Gaines concept. I bought it for a lark. And then I fell in love with it.

I have a rather extensive music collection, and CDs cycle in and out of my rotation. I'm always buying music and listening to music, and I forget about some of the albums that I loved as new infatuations replace them. Because of this, every now and then, I take a look over my CD collection and pull out and oldie, but a goodie, and re-introduce it into my current listening mix. I did this a couple of weeks ago, but to my horror, the Chris Gaines CD was not in its jewel case. After looking for it for a while, I had to really question myself. Did I like it enough to buy it twice? This outrageous CD? I decided that I did, and I ordered it from amazon.com.

It arrived last week, and as I removed its plastic wrapping, I noticed that the cover seemed to be holographic. That was weird. My original CD cover was not that way. I turned the CD around in my hand, wondering at it, and that's when I saw it. Written on the spine were words to the effect of "Limited First Edition Holographic Cover." Oh, poor Garth/Chris. It's been five years, and amazon.com still has first edition copies....

10 Comments:

  • The one song that got a lot of airtime... I forget which one it is. I, sadly, love that song. Now I don't feel so bad, knowing that Oz is a music tard just like me! Wee ha!

    By Blogger Dan, at 1:54 PM, December 10, 2004  

  • I'll admit that I am not a fan of new country music. I can appriciate Garth Brooks' artistry, ability to craft pop songs and all that, but he's just not my taste.

    However, when I saw this album come out I was very happy. I loved the idea. To me it was a classic rock and roll "concept" album. In 1999 the recording industry changed forever. Napster was all the rage and people's album buying habbits changed forever. Instead of albums, the focus would now be on songs. I saw Garth's concept album as the most artistic response to that shift yet, whether he intended it that way or not I don't know.

    Also in 1999 the Internet was firmly mainstream with virtual worlds being created. People were living in virtual worlds, playing virtual reality games that involved a bit of real life too. I saw this as an ingenious take on that concept. This album was musical virtual reality. Brilliant!

    By Blogger Wheelson, at 2:03 PM, December 10, 2004  

  • You know...I remember seeing that album a while back, and I just thought that Garth was trying a new look. I didnt know that he was creating this whole new character. And honestly, I kinda wish that his Chris Gaines cd hadnt flopped. I'm actually kinda interested in what the movie would have been like and all. Thanks for that little bit of pop culture trivia!

    By Blogger D.T., at 4:36 PM, December 10, 2004  

  • I remember that little trip too - and I kind of dug it because it was an interesting approach to break out of his genre. I'm with you, I enjoyed the album. And I thought the "Behind the Music" was entertaining too, in a Spinal Tap kind of way, but not quite as in your face as Spinal Tap, obviously.

    By Blogger Diva, at 11:27 PM, December 10, 2004  

  • Wow. This post is random. I haven't thought about Chris Gaines in ages. I'm with you on this one though. There were a few good songs on that album. Although I think Garth should have just called off the farce and made it a GB original from the start. I mean really. No matter how great the songs were, no one was going to take anything seriously that had that black and white leotard getup attached to it.

    By Blogger Janet, at 12:30 AM, December 11, 2004  

  • Dan, Most likely, the song you heard was "It Don't Matter to the Sun." It's also one of my favorites on the album. Music tards unite!

    Wheelson, I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but now I will because that will make me sound elitist and superior as opposed to a loser who likes "that Garth Brooks pop album." Thanks!

    DT, I wish it hadn't flopped, too. I would love to hear some more Chris Gaines songs!

    Diva Drip, I never saw the Behind the Music but I wish I had. Wow, I didn't realize that so many people actually liked this album. I guess we've all been keeping our heads down about this one!

    Janet, Yeah, I don't know if the album would have been any more successful as just a Garth Brooks album, but at least we would have been spared the tights! I just don't understand how those things happen! I mean, didn' t people see that picture before they published it? Couldn't someone have said, "Oh no. No, no, no, no, no." Would that have been so hard? And the truly scary thing about it is that Brooks said in the CNN.com article I linked to, "I surrounded myself with people that knew what hip and cool was since I don't." Uh, I've got a newsflash for you, Garth: those people didn't know either.

    By Blogger Oz, at 9:08 AM, December 11, 2004  

  • The most interesting aspect of the Chris Gaines phenom was that unlike previous artists who may have tried something similar (ie: Clapton with Derek and the Dominoes, King and The Bachman Books), the record company and associated marketing machines really hyped Gaines. If he had chosen to release the Gaines album as a newcomer, it would have been interesting to see how successful it would have been (or not).

    By Blogger Diva, at 12:22 PM, December 11, 2004  

  • I'm a huge Garth Brooks fan (though not a big fan of country in general... go figure...) so when I heard about this whole Chris Gaines thing, I decided to support Garth. Like the rest of the bunch, I too enjoyed the album on the whole. There were a couple of songs that weren't so great, but overall I thought it was good.

    I agree with the oddity of all the hype surrounding this made up character... makes me wonder what happened to the movie. My favorite attempt to show Gaines off to the public was when Garth Brooks hosted Saturday Night Live and Chris Gaines was the musical guest. There's one scene where Garth is having a conversation with Lorne Michaels when Tracey Morgan walks up and starts bashing Gaines. Garth is appalled but doesn't want to say anything because he wouldn't want Tracey to think the same bad things about him. Finally Garth is called off and Lorne explains to Tracey that Garth and Gaines are the same person. The joke was that Tracey knew the whole time. It was amusing.

    By Blogger Newell, at 10:46 PM, December 11, 2004  

  • Diva, I also wonder what would have happened if the Chris Gaines album had been released without the publicity blitz that it was "Garth Brooks in the Life of Chris Gaines." I think that it would have been hard to keep it under wraps that Garth Brooks was Chris Gaines, but if that hadn't been the selling point...well, who's to say? I doubt the album would have been massively successful, but maybe it would have done well enough to justify another. Or maybe not. Garth Brooks certainly has enough on his plate without nourturing another, less successful career on top of his "Garth Brooks" career.

    Newell, I think what happened with the movie was that the Chris Gaines album did not do well enough to for Paramount to go ahead with it. If people laughed at the idea of Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines and didn't buy the album, that's pretty damning evidence about the prospect of a successful movie.

    I must say, I feel so vindicated to know that I'm not alone in liking this album. Maybe I no longer have to hang my head in shame! LOL

    By Blogger Oz, at 11:43 AM, December 12, 2004  

  • Chris Gains existed Way before Garth
    check out the information on the net, he was in a group called :Crush (1986) where as "Chris Gaines", his birth name, he joined his best friend Tommy Levitz along with Marc Obed were dawning on their career when tragedy struck, and Tommy died in a plane crash. From there Chris took to a solo career on. Its all there in the net and on Youtube's VH1 Behind the music about Chris's life and music career. Many younger fans don't remember him outside of Garth and have it reversed or think he did the "alter ego". Some feel it was a ploy of a silly move to do cross over as a "rock and it flopped" Until you do research and see the whole story, you can possibly render ANY complete judgement on what this man has been through personally, nor professionally. I think we all on the outside ( me included) have a tendency to think first whats fed to us in the media, with out doing a fact finding for ourselves. So now I do some snooping and read, then I can sound off) I am only passing on what I found out. I learned a lot and understand his pain and have grown to love the man and his music even more.

    By Blogger areana senoj, at 11:59 AM, November 24, 2014  

Post a Comment

<< Home