Garth Brooks Looks Back on How ‘The Chase’ Record ‘Took a Beating’ Over ‘We Shall Be Free’

by TK Sanders
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Garth Brooks‘ Diamond album The Chase hit record stores in 1992 to mixed reviews and a healthy dose of controversy. Brooks released the LP, his fourth at the time, with a slightly new sound that some contemporary country fans did not appreciate at the time.

Brooks recently told PopCulture.com that he is extremely proud of the album because it showed a different side of him; and in the end, it still became a massive commercial success. “It’s my favorite of the Diamonds because it was the one that just got the living hell kicked out of it for ‘We Shall Be Free,'” Brook said in an interview. “It really started out in a hole. And people were like, ‘Oh, he’s changed his music.’ I didn’t change my music. It’s just another side of me. And so ‘We Shall Be Free’ was the most loving [record] we’d ever done. And because of that, it took a beating.

“I can’t tell you how proud I was when that Diamond came across [many years later in 2020]. When they announced it, I cried because these are like your children, in a way. So to see that thing reach Diamond status really made me even more proud than when No Fences or Double Live or anything was lucky enough to get there.”

Not only did Brooks write a song in “We Shall Be Free” that referenced both the LGBT community and non-Christian religions in a tolerant light, but he and his label also released the then-controversial song as the first single off the album. Released on August 31, 1992, the song featured a slow, melodic piano-based sound that did not resonate with fans who considered Garth Brooks, arguably the biggest star in the world at the time, a traditional country music act.

Radio airplay lagged and The Chase sputtered during its September release as a result. Of course, the national perspective on equality and social justice shifted massively in the coming decades, leading to a new legacy for the song and album. In 2021, during Brooks’ ceremony for the Kennedy Center Honors, Gladys Knight covered the song, leading to a tearful moment for the superstar country artist.

On Jan. 23, 2020, the music industry officially certified The Chase 10x Multi-Platinum, meaning it moved at least 10 million units in its lifespan. Shorthand for the honor is ‘Diamond,’ a milestone which few artists ever achieve once. Brooks has accomplished the feat nine times. His other Diamond albums are Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin’ The Wind, The Hits, Double Live, SevensThe Ultimate Hits, and In Pieces.

Brooks has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts as he continues touring even now at 60-years-old. New music streaming metrics have also bolstered his sales numbers, leading to older albums hitting milestones like Diamond with more ease (i.e., a “sale” is now expanded to 10 specific song downloads or 1,500 streams). His latest tour, The Stadium Tour, recently stopped through Nashville for two nights at Nissan Stadium.

Outsider.com