Country Throwback: Garth Brooks Belts ‘Not Counting You’ at 1990 Farm Aid

by Suzanne Halliburton

Recognize this Garth Brooks? It’s back when he was just registering on the music scene. It’s difficult to imagine when his songs weren’t on every country fan’s playlist.

Yet there he was, part of the 1990 Farm Aid bill that featured a who’s who of music no matter the genre. The lineup included Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Elton John, Don Henley, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Arlo Guthrie, Jackson Browne, John Denver, Lou Reed and Bonnie Raitt.

A young Alan Jackson also was making his Farm Aid debut. So was K.T. Oslin. In all, more than 70 acts performed. The concert sold out in 90 minutes.

Garth Brooks, who was then 28, played two songs that April day at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. One — “Alabama Clay” — was a nod to the family farmers. After all, the concert was set up to raise money to help this country’s farmers who might be struggling to make the mortgage.

The lyrics were so appropriate. They’re about a man who left the farm for the city, only to return to raise a family.

“His neck is red as Alabama clay. Now he’s goin’ home this time to stay. Where the roots run deep on the family tree. And the tractor rolls through the fields of green.”

Years later, Garth Brooks said he wished he’d released the song as a single. “We still play it live,’ Brooks said. “I get so many requests for ‘Alabama Clay.’ Love it.”

Brooks also played “Not Counting You.” Check it out. And read on through for some more details.

Setting The Garth Brooks Scene

So let’s reset the Garth Brooks scene, circa spring, 1990.

Brooks was a few months removed from the release of his first studio album. Appropriately, it had a simple name — “Garth Brooks.” It enjoyed such broad appeal. The album reached No. 2 on the country charts and No. 13 on the Billboard 200.

Brooks opened for Kenny Rogers that year. His first album included the classic “The Dance” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” Brooks’ first-ever No. 1 song. “Not Counting You” reached No. 2.

Garth Brooks didn’t know at the time, but 1990 was going to be his year. Four months after Brooks’ Farm Aid appearance, he released another classic album, “No Fences.” It spent 23 weeks at the top and gave us “Friends in Low Places” and “Thunder Rolls.”

But the other song he picked for Farm Aid had a distinction from all others. It was the first he’d ever recorded. “Not Counting You” was typical country fare. After all, Brooks sang about heartache, telling his ex that not counting her, no woman had ever made him feel so blue.

Brooks enjoyed a sensational 1990. His career hit warp speed. It hasn’t slowed since.

For more Outsider coverage of Garth Brooks, click here.