Country Throwback: Garth Brooks Hit ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ Goes No. 1 31 Years Ago Today

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

It’s been more than a couple of tomorrows since Garth Brooks had his first No. 1 hit. The country singer wowed audiences straight to the top of the charts with “If Tomorrow Never Comes” 31 years ago today.

In more ways than one, the song helped jumpstart Brooks’ career and prove he had both the talent and voice to make it in the industry. Without the song, there might have never been a Garth Brooks. At the time, Brooks worked as a footwear salesman and cleaning churches in his spare time.

But he took the opportunity when he saw it. Songwriter Kent Blazy invited him to perform demo-work on a few songs. During their session, Brooks introduced the idea of the song to Blazy.

“Garth came in and at the time, he was wearing these big long dusters and big cowboy hat,” Blazy said on Brooks’ Inside Studio G. “He looked like he was eight feet tall. I was sitting on the couch with my guitar and I had some ideas I had worked on. He stood above me and said, ‘I got this song I’ve run by 25 writers and nobody likes it.’ And I just said, ‘Gee thanks.’ He said, ‘Don’t you want to hear it?’ I said, ‘Yeah play it for me.’”

Garth Brooks Shopped the Song Around for a Year

Blazy noticed something in Brooks that day. While the song was rough around the edges, it spoke a kernel of truth that Blazy latched onto. He decided to help the young musician with his song, and soon the duo had a work tape of the song to shop around. Unfortunately, the country music industry is difficult to break into even with a work tape. They spent a year trying to find a home for the song.

“About a week before that, [Brooks] got a call to come play at the Bluebird to fill in for somebody who was sick,” Blazy told The Tennessean. “They let him do one song, and he played ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes.’ Lynn Schultz from Capitol Records, who passed on him for the third time that week, heard something (in that song). He said, ‘Why don’t you come back? Maybe we missed something.’ He came in and got a record deal. It was his second single, my first No. 1 and his first No. 1.”

The song featured as the second single on Brooks’ self-titled debut album. And as the saying goes, the rest was country music history.