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Music / In the Life of Chris Gaines

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Garth Brooks In...The Life Of Chris Gaines (also known as Chris Gaines: Greatest Hits) is an album released by Garth Brooks in 1999. The album served as the introduction to Brooks' alter-ego character Chris Gaines, an Australian alternative rock singer who Brooks was planning to portray in a movie called The Lamb. As a result, the album is a change in style for Brooks and was intended to be his first official crossover album to pop audiences.

Brooks promoted the Chris Gaines project heavily in 1999, and he devoted most of the year to introducing the character and explaining the concept behind the film-to-be. The character's backstory was also fleshed out through an episode of VH1's Behind the Music and Brooks appeared and performed as Gaines on an episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted that year. Unfortunately, things didn't go well for Brooks. The public and critics were bemused or bewildered by the Gaines character, and the album was treated like a curiosity instead of as the major release it was intended to be. Brooks' long-time fans also disliked the album and its departure from his country sound for a more pop-rock and adult contemporary feel. While the album reached #2 on the Billboard 200, went double-platinum and spun off the #5 Hot 100 hit "Lost in You" (which curiously was Brooks' only Top 40 pop hit in his entire career), it was largely written off as a flop. The bad reception to the Gaines character also meant plans for the movie fell through. After its release, Brooks released only one more album, 2001's Scarecrow, before announcing his retirement from music (He would not return to touring or recording on a major scale until 2009).

Garth Brooks In...The Life Of Chris Gaines was supported by four singles: "Lost in You", "It Don't Matter to the Sun", "Right Now", and "That's the Way I Remember It".


  1. "That's the Way I Remember It" (4:29)
  2. "Lost in You" (3:05)
  3. "Snow in July" (4:20)
  4. "Driftin' Away" (4:56)
  5. "Way of the Girl" (3:44)
  6. "Unsigned Letter" (4:17)
  7. "It Don't Matter to the Sun" (4:21)
  8. "Right Now" (3:24)
  9. "Main Street" (4:12)
  10. "White Flag" (4:43)
  11. "Digging for Gold" (5:08)
  12. "Maybe" (5:11)
  13. "My Love Tells Me So" (4:33)

Principal members:

  • Garth Brooks — acoustic guitar, lead vocals
  • Gordon Kennedy — electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass and vocals (lead vocals on "My Love Tells Me So")
  • Wayne Kirkpatrick — acoustic guitars, keyboards, drum programming, clavinet and vocals
  • Tommy Simms — keyboards, bass, acoustic guitars, drum programming and vocals
  • Chris McHugh — drums, percussion and drum programming

It's just the way of the tropes

  • All There in the Manual: Chris Gaines' life is described in the liner notes: he was born in Australia to an Olympic swim coach and swimmer, but moved to America and was raised there until he dropped out of high school to form his band Crush, which scored their only hit song, "My Love Tells Me So". After the band's lead singer - and Chris' best friend - died in an airplane accident, Gaines went solo with his first album Straight Jacket in 1989, followed by Fornucopia in 1991, Apostle in 1994, and Triangle in 1996.
  • Breakup Breakout:invoked In-universe, Chris from CRUSH. Notable because Chris was not the singer of the band, he was their guitarist.
  • Break-Up Song: "Driftin' Away", where the protagonist wants to give his former partner another try, but is afraid that she has forgiven him one too many times. And thus he is afraid to give his heart again, just to have a change of mind.
  • Creator Breakdown:invoked A few fictional examples: Chris performed "Maybe" for his Straight Jacket album after one of his fellow band members from Crush died in an airplane accident. Then Chris created the Fornucopia album after his father passed away from cancer. The Apostle album came a few years after Chris was involved in an automobile accident and had to go through reconstructive surgery.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: "My Love Tells Me So" has the sound of snapping fingers during the bridge section. The liner notes has Chris say that this was supposed to be a temporary filler until the band found something better to replace it with.
  • Face on the Cover: Garth-as-Chris's face in close-up. The album's reversible cover lets it be displayed as either a Garth Brooks album or a Chris Gaines album.
    • For the fictional albums of Chris Gaines in the liner notes: Triangle has Chris' face arranged in a kaleidoscopic triangular pattern, while Fornucopia has a younger Chris looking toward the camera with a female model lying down in front of him.
  • Gold Digger: In "Digging For Gold" the millionaire wonders whether his loved one loves him for who he is or for his wealth? When they go broke it turns out she does not want to stay with him.
    Black Tuesday when that wall of wealth came crashing down
    Bad news day when that little queen had to give back her crown
    And he said, hey babe, we can live on love
    'Cuz love is worth much more
    But he barely got his feelings out, she was half way to the door
    And she never even heard him cry
  • Greatest Hits Album: This album is presented as one for the fictional artist.
  • Grief Song: "Maybe" and "It Don't Matter To The Sun", which was sung as a tribute to his mother at the time of his father's passing.
  • Hospital Hottie: On the cover of Straight Jacket, young Chris is flanked by two attractive nurses, but that's all we really know about them.
  • Institutional Apparel: Chris in a strait-jacket on the cover of Straight Jacket.
  • List Song: "Right Now", based on Cheryl Wheeler's "If It Were Up To Me" (a list of things that may be the contribution of what's wrong in this world)note  and combining it with the chorus of the Youngbloods' "Get Together".
  • Love Letter Lunacy: "Unsigned Letter". The subject receives a mysterious three-word letter that just read "come to me" and she ends up traveling to Boston to find out who wrote the letter, with no specific outcome mentioned.
  • The Makeover: Chris after his automobile accident and reconstructive surgery took on a more Goth appearance for his later albums.
  • May–December Romance: The marriage relationship of the millionaire and his wife in "Digging For Gold", with the verse saying that the wife is young enough to be his daughter. However, she quickly proves that she's not in the marriage for love, but for money.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: On the cover of the fictional album Apostle, the shot of an open door leading to a bright glowing light from the other side.
  • New Sound Album: The album as a whole attempted to be this, although not all of its songs fully departed from Garth's own style.
    • In-universe, Apostle is most likely this, with its songs "The Way Of The Girl" and "Unsigned Letter" sounding much different from his earlier works.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "That's The Way I Remember It". It's arranged as the first song on the album to show how Chris chooses to remember his past work.
  • One-Hit Wonder: In-universe, Chris' band Crush has only one hit, "My Love Tells Me So".
  • One-Word Title: "Maybe".
  • Portmantitle: Fornucopia, which is a portmanteau of "fornication" and "cornucopia".
  • The Power of Love: "My Love Tells Me So" and "Lost In You".
  • Record Producer: Don Was, in real life. This was the only Garth album that was not produced by Allen Reynolds from Garth's first to Reynolds' retirement.
  • Riches to Rags: The millionaire and his Gold Digger wife in "Digging For Gold."
    Black Tuesday when that wall of wealth came crashing down.
    Bad news day when that little queen had to give back her crown.
  • Shout-Out: "Unsigned Letter" mentions Pandora's Box from Greek Mythology.
  • Small Town Boredom: "Main Street".
    In my dreams I've seen
    Things that only seem to happen on the silver screen
    When it's over there's no walking out
    'Cause out there all they talk about
    Is what ain't goin' down on Main Street
  • Spoken Word in Music: Done three times. In the middle of the chorus of "Way Of The Girl", he says "it's just the way it is, can't do nothing 'bout it." And near the end of "Right Now", he says "you know, if we don't talk about it, it ain't going to get better." There's also a spoken section in the bridge of "My Love Tells Me So."
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Gordon Kennedy does the lead vocal of "My Love Tells Me So", tying in with it being the one hit from a band that Gaines only played guitar in.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Way Of The Girl".
  • Totally Radical: Out-of-universe, Brooks' attempt to reinvent himself as a rock star as well as the '90s-tastic wig and soul patch image for Gaines came across this way to many people.
  • White Flag: "White Flag".