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Five Best Garth Brooks Classic Rock Cover Songs

Garth Brooks
Jackson Laizure, Getty Images

Part of the reason Garth Brooks became one of country’s biggest superstars, if you’ll forgive our bias, is that his music has got a whole lot of rock ‘n’ roll in it. He’s never been shy about how deeply the genre influences him, sharing time onstage and in the recording studio with rock legends including Billy Joel and Kiss. His massive new covers-heavy box set ‘Blame It All on My Roots‘ features his versions of nearly two dozen of classic rock’s most beloved tracks, and its release makes this a good time to take a listen to the Five Best Garth Brooks Cover Songs.


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5

'Midnight Rider'

From: 'Classic Rock' (2013)
 
 

There are four separately packaged and titled covers albums on Brooks' 2013 box set 'Blame It All on My Roots' -- guess which one attracted our attention? He mostly sticks very close to the original arrangements and spirit of most of the 11 songs on 'Classic Rock,' but does manage to add a uniquely swampy country feel (and some dramatic strings) to his version of the Allmans' 1970 rebel anthem.

 
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4

'Workin' for a Livin''

From: 'Ultimate Hits' (2007)
 
 

If you want to become friends with Garth Brooks, the formula is pretty simple: Write a hit rock song he likes, then sit back and wait for him to ask you to guest on his cover of it. Heck, as Lewis shows, it doesn't even have to be one of  your biggest chart performers; this one barely cracked the didn't even crack the Top 40 back in 1982, and Lewis still got himself a free trip to a NASCAR track to shoot a video for Brooks' upbeat, down-home version 25 years later.

 
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3

'Hard Luck Woman'

From: 'Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved' (1994)
 
 
Kiss

If you've ever seen Garth Brooks perform live, you know he's seen Kiss' over-the-top spectacles at least once or twice before, and that he might even have purchased some of their old flame-throwers or hydraulic platforms. And if you're going to ask a country star to cover a Kiss song, this mid-tempo acoustic number is the smartest bet. Naturally, Brooks knocks it out of the park. Makes you wonder: Would Chris Gaines have had more success if he was wearing facepaint?

 
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2

'Shameless'

From: 'Ropin' the Wind' (1991)
 
 
Billy Joel

We could practically make a list of Garth Brooks Classic Rock Cover Songs using only Billy Joel tunes -- the singer has covered 'Piano Man' and 'Only the Good Die Young' in the past, and adds a version of the Vietnam War epic 'Goodnight Saigon' on the new 'Classic Rock' album. But the one that had the biggest impact is his larger-than-life take on Joel's blustery 1989 love song, which Brooks took to the top of the country charts two years later.

 
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1

'To Make You Feel My Love'

From: 'Hope Floats' Soundtrack (1998)
 
 

Our No. 1 Garth Brooks Classic Rock Cover Song features yet another Billy Joel connection. It was the "Piano Man" who actually released his drum-heavy version of this Bob Dylan song first. Wisely, Brooks stayed closer to the original's simpler piano-based arrangement, and was rewarded for his restraint with one of the biggest hits of his career.

 

Next: Covers That Are Better Than the Originals

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