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Bill Marcil Jr., Published July 07 2012

From the publisher: It took an evening with Garth to squeeze confession out of me

I grew up Catholic. Confession is a ritual that the Catholic faith endorses. I never said I was the greatest Catholic, in fact the principal over at St. Joe’s might kick me out also. So here is my confession, to God and everybody: I love Garth Brooks and country music.

All my life, I thought I hated country music. All my cool “rock” friends and I would hang out in our black T-shirts and laugh at all the country stars who looked like Porter Wagoner. We would contemplate the deep powerful lyrics of bands like the Goo Goo Dolls. “I think I will slide, Runaway, Runaway.” Wow, that’s deep. Truth is, I have no idea what that stuff means. But a few weeks ago, I was turned on to the beauty and power that is country music.

I was looking for a getaway for my wife. We just spent two months living with her mom (another column), and we wanted some “couple” time. I searched Google and found Garth Brooks (wife’s favorite) was playing at the Wynn Las Vegas – 16 dates a year and, yes, this upcoming weekend would be perfect. I booked the flight. Got the tickets. I was off to my first Garth Brooks concert.

But, seriously, Garth Brooks? How would I suffer through it? I don’t know any of his music. Oh well, like any good husband … it was for my wife.

So here we are, the city of sin (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas). First night. We are sleeping by 9:30 p.m. The time change is brutal. And we are parents of three daughters.

Next day is Garth Day. We wake up well-rested and head to the pool. We sit next to the ultimate rock ’n’ roll couple. Him: jet black hair, fully tattooed, trucker hat slightly tilted and the cool sunglasses. Her: jet black hair, fully tattooed, cool sunglasses and super skinny bikini.

The first sign of their coolness is they tell my wife, “Fargo and West Virginia, that’s the two worst places on Earth.” I come over to the conversation and am in the unique position of defending Fargo, which I am happy to do, but also West Virginia. My wife spent her senior year in high school there and developed her love of Garth Brooks there.

I go into a crazy long, convoluted explanation about Fargo, West Virginia, Garth Brooks and how I am doing this for my wife ’cause I like cool music like the Goo Goo Dolls. They move to the other side of the pool.

We walk into the Wynn. We grab our seats. I look around, and besides the absence of medicinal marijuana, the differences between a rock show and a country show are profound. Country people are happier. Sure, they like to sit on the porch, drink beer and talk about when their wife left them for the dogcatcher, but truth be told, these people are happier. I envy them.

So Garth takes the stage. My heart races a little. The crowd is crazy. He starts playing a little guitar and talking about how he grew up in the ’60s with music all around him. He moves to the ’70s, belts out James Taylor, the Beatles, Bob Seger, The Guess Who.

Wait a minute. Garth is just like me! I listened to the same musicians. Garth and I are alike. I do love Garth Brooks. I see the light. I love country music. Thank you, Garth. Thank you, country music.

Marcil is publisher of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.