Garth Brooks Reflects On 'We Shall We Free' Backlash

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Garth Brooks says he was surprised by the negative reactions to his 1992 song “We Shall Be Free” – but didn’t really care.

“I’m not running for president, so I don’t care what people as a whole think of me as an artist,” Brooks told Billboard. “What I care about is, is this music that I’m getting to be a part of changing somebody’s life for the better?”

The anthemic single, which the country superstar co-wrote with Stephanie Davis, was seen by many as too progressive for country music fans at the time. “We shall be free / When the last thing we notice is the colour of the skin,” Brooks sang. “When we're free to love anyone we choose.”

Brooks said he didn’t expect backlash “because it was just common sense."

He recalled: “People going, ‘Don't preach to me,' and I'm going, ‘Oh s**t, I didn't feel like I was preaching.’ I just did a real feel-good song that was inspired off of what I was feeling pulling out of Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict and watching those fires and going, ‘Hey, man, everybody just settle down for a second and focus on loving one another.’”

Elsewhere in the interview, Brooks was asked if his decision to keep his music off YouTube and most streaming services prevents young people from discovering it.

“I've never really thought about age at all. All I know is you make the best record you can, you stick to what you believe in,” he replied. “I can't remember the crowds being as young as they are, especially in Canada. Every 10th person was a child that was 9 or 10 years old.

“So I find that they find it, if it’s worth looking for.”

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