One of the most, if not the most, successful songs of Garth Brooks’ extensive career is “Friends in Low Places,” and after 25 years Garth is set to return to the famous track for a little make-over. In honor of the silver anniversary of his second studio album, No Fences — where the song first appeared — he has re-recorded the illustrious song with some very high-profile friends. Along with his self-admitted hero George Strait, as well as Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, and Keith Urban.
“Friends in Low Places” was originally released in August of 1990 as the first single off the No Fences album and would then go on to spend four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. The song then proceeded to win Brooks the Single of the Year honors at both the CMA and ACM awards that same year. According to ABC News, the song also helped propel the No Fences album to be certified 17 times platinum by the RIAA. Rumor has it that Brooks has included the third verse that fans have only heard performed at his concerts on the new release. It was Garth Brook’s rep who made the official announcement and seemed to enjoy working with the host of stars set to be on the new track.
Unfortunately, just one day after the news of the star-studded new release, Billboard has announced that not all is well in the Brooks camp. According to them, all plans for the “Friends in Low Places” have been shelved for the time being due to issues with Brooks’ music publishers. The song was set to be the centerpiece of a special silver anniversary revamped release of the entire No Fences album in November, which would then be available throughout the holiday season.
The details of the deal were to be a bit non-traditional, however, with an unconfirmed non-traditional retailer to buy at least 1 million units of the “new” No Fences. This was contingent on the publishers agreeing to a discounted royalty rate in return for the 1 million sold (with options to purchase more) guarantee. However, not all the producers on the album are on board for this — Sony and Universal Music Publishing Group would not agree to the full agreed discount amount and this has stalled the production. UMPG has stated that their issue is protecting the songwriters, but even the writers have no issue with the deal. Pat Alger, a songwriter who co-wrote two songs on No Fences, added his two cents.
“Garth Brooks has done more to generate income from these songs than anybody else. On the first several uses, we got paid full rate and then he started coming up with different packages — this may be the sixth or seventh time he’s found a way to re-energize this 25-year-old material. In a day when 50,000 sales really impresses somebody, we’re being guaranteed over a million sales on this. As a songwriter who has watched his income diminish, to give a half rate to someone who’s going to guarantee me a million or a million and a half copies, doesn’t seem like I’m giving up much.”
As it is, Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late has sold over a million copies in 2015. If the million album purchase guarantee goes through, the No Fences reissue would rake in an additional $45,000 per track for the songwriters and publishers. Despite the guaranteed increase, negotiations are at a standstill at the moment and Brooks is taking the blame.
“This is 100% my fault. I’ve done this deal for 20 years,” he says. “I know how this deal works. What caught me off guard – I just never guessed – is that the rate would go up.”
Excited fans everywhere will sorely be disappointed if the producers and Brooks are unable to work through their differences.
[Photo Courtesy of Ethan Miller/ Getty Images]