Garth Brooks looks back 20 years at Central Park concert

On Monday (August 7th), Garth Brooks celebrated the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking Central Park concert that saw the country superstar perform to an estimated 1.2 million people on August 7, 1997. In a video collage that opened his weekly Inside Studio G Facebook Live series, Brooks relived many moments from the free event that was broadcast to the 14.6 million viewers watching at home on HBO. The video montage featured images of fans who shared their recounts that night with #IWasThere.

For nearly thirty minutes, Brooks relived the memories from the biggest concert to have ever taken place in New York’s Central Park. Brooks called it a “fabulous evening” as he talked about the concertgoers, the crew, the city, special guests Billy Joel and Don McLean and more.

“That was a big, big night for us. This is ‘Unanswered Prayers’. This is gonna be hard not to get emotional,” Brooks says as he discusses an image from the evening on the screen behind him. “Right in the middle of ‘Unanswered Prayers’ — this moment right here. Allen Reynolds — if they ever make a movie of this, this would be a great scene — Allen Reynolds is producing the whole thing and stands up and the engineer goes, ‘Where are you going?’ He goes, ‘I gotta hear this,’ and he went outside the trailer. You can hear it all through the trees and everything, this estimated 850,000 to 1.2 million people singing ‘Unanswered Prayers.’ And I’m gonna tell you right now if there was anybody there that didn’t know the words to it, I did not make eye contact with them because everybody I saw was singing it.”

Brooks gave a lot of insight to the staging and setup in North Meadow Central Park. As he, nor the band, knew what to expect, they couldn’t believe the size of the crowd. “They were great. That was cool. They were just so sweet,” he says.

In a special moment during the webcast, Brooks chatted with a woman named Megan via FaceTime who was in attendance that night. She was the first fan to reply to the #IWasThere campaign and recounted her story getting to the concert.

“I was in my early twenties — huge Garth fan. A friend of mine called and said that you were gonna be in Central Park and it was a free concert and we should go. Totally on a whim without any plan in place, we jumped in the car and drove to New York City,” she tells Brooks. “We parked in the first parking garage we found — which by the way is not anywhere near Central Park — and made our way there and spent the night in Central Park. [We] took turns, each one taking a nap, meeting tons of people. It was the coolest experience ever.”

As Studio G continues, Brooks answers fans questions including whether his tour will make a stop in Vancouver from a young girl. “I guess the question — If we aren’t coming to Vancouver, will we get anywhere close? Of course, I can’t answer that, but yes. Yes. Tell your mom, it’s coming. I want to see you there,” he says to the young fan.

“They were great. That was cool. They were just so sweet.”

Brooks also briefly touched on his long rumored demo box set. “We can’t announce it yet. It’s coming. But what is coming is you’re getting ready to hear those songwriters at those very crucial moments,” Brooks explains. “‘Cause if you’ve ever heard the song ‘The Dance’ and you go, ‘I wonder what it was like the first time the writer of ‘The Dance’ pushed that button on that boombox, strum those [guitar strings] and goes, ‘Okay, here’s what I think it’s going to sound like.’ Well, get ready, ’cause you’re gonna hear it. It is the coolest thing on the planet. It’s coming, and we’re gonna show you, but it’s still all about the music.”

Brooks also stated that next Tuesday, August 15th, his team will issue a special G-Alert that will give fans the opportunity to claim a free copy of The Chase and In Pieces 25th Anniversary editions via Amazon and Geico. There’s a limited number of copies to be claimed, although Brooks didn’t reveal how many would be available. A link to the landing page where fans can claim their free copies will be included in the G Alert. We will pass along more details should they become available.

Inside Studio G will be taking the rest of August off as Brooks and his team retool the final North American leg of the Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood World Tour. The live broadcasts will resume on September 11th, after performing seven sold out shows over two weekends in Calgary.

The tour has a handful of dates left before it wraps at the end of the year. More dates will continue to be announced through December with a final Nashville stop which has yet to be unveiled. So far, the tour has sold more than five million tickets in 60 cities in three years which surpasses his previous record set in 100 cities during his 1996-1998 trek.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.