Jace Carlton
Performing Songwriter - Freelance Writer / Photojournalist - Poet - Author

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The Garth Factor
The Garth Factor
The Career Behind Country's Big Boom

Patsi Bale Cox
Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  September 2009

First off let me say that it's great to be back!  It's been a long time since one of my reviews appeared in Songwriters Connection.  Truth be told, it's been WAY too long, through no fault of Susan's I must add.  I've just been working on other projects along with making a major move in my life.

Originally Susan offered me the opportunity to contribute to the very first issue of Songwriters Connection by writing a review of her outstanding book "The Soul of a Writer", and after that I was blessed to add several more reviews over the next couple of years ranging from book, concert and CD reviews to personal commentary on the music industry.

After my last review Susan let me know that the door was always open if I ever wanted to share a few more words.  Since that time I continued to write CD reviews for a number of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area where I'm originally from and, more recently, along with maintaining my own songwriting, I've been doing some freelance writing on behalf of artists in the Nashville area which I moved to in the spring of 2007.

So after all this time what brings me back to Songwriters Connection?  The book sitting next to me on my desk which I've just devoured over the last few days ... "The Garth Factor" by Patsi Bale Cox.

There are many rumors that have circulated about Garth Brooks over the last two decades, and this incredible and very credible book answers and dispels all of them.

“The Garth Factor” is rich in detail, just like so many of Garth’s story songs.  It covers his first experiences and impressions of Nashville in the mid-80’s, follows his return to Oklahoma to recover and regroup, and then kicks into high gear to fill the reader’s curiosity about how Garth finally broke into the Nashville music scene (through persistence), kept building his base of connections (through genuine friendships that have continued to grow to this day), and finally hit it BIG TIME in the early 90’s and never looked back!

Keeping It Real

“The Garth Factor” details each album he created with mastermind / master producer Allen Reynolds, how they chose the songs, and how he lead his team of studio musicians and road band, along with a myriad of other important people with three words straight from his heart – “Keep it real”.

But more than a book about his one-of-a-kind incredible success with his music, “The Garth Factor” also covers the high and lows of his personal life, the triumphs and celebrations as well as the hard times and heartaches.

I've always been a huge fan of Garth’s and couldn't believe my luck back in February 2008 when, with only an hour to go before a special concert was to begin, I was offered two tickets to see Garth in a very private concert with less a 1,000 people at the Grand Ole Opry.

My wife and I jumped into our car and literally flew to the concert in Nashville - a trip that would normally take us about 40 minutes door to door took us less than 30 minutes from the phone call to sitting in our seats!

While that intimate evening with a master entertainer, who made you feel so welcome as if we were just sitting around his living room, might pale in comparison to the intense energy generated at his arena size concerts, or even that special night in Central Park, the real Garth Brooks still shone through from the moment he hit the stage through over two hours of music and story telling, then three encores with his band, and finally wrapping everything up with an additional 45 minute acoustic solo encore, playing the songs of artists who had inspired him throughout his life from Don McLean to Dan Fogelberg, from James Taylor and Jim Croce to Billy Joel.

So why do I include details about our “private” concert here in the midst of this book review?  To make the point that whether you read about him in “The Garth Factor” or get a chance to see him up close and personal, the intensity is ALWAYS there, giving 100% of himself and exemplifying his motto to “Keep it real”.

Patsi Bale Cox has written a masterpiece that every artist-in-the-making should read and take careful notes.  And every artist and songwriter would also do well to glean valuable insight into the music business, because Garth is not only a master at creating great songs, great albums, great videos and great concerts, but he's also a master on how to take care of business.

Countless artists, songwriters and musicians have lost fortunes because they only focused on the creative side of their careers and neglected the more boring, but still critical business side.  From the very beginning Garth paid very careful attention to the business side of his career in order to protect his work and his fortune from being mishandled or even stolen from right under his nose.  His is a perfect example of how important it is to know and actively participate in both sides of this crazy business we love to be a part of.

With Garth, what you see is what you get – honesty, integrity, humility, talent and a keen eye for business all wrapped up together.  And to this very day he continues to live by his personal motto – “Keep it real”.

Copyright © 2009, Jace Carlton


Jace Carlton is a Nashville based songwriter and freelance writer.  A songwriter and collaborator much in demand in the Country market, he also enjoys writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Christian, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters, and has regularly contributed book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

He's also the creator of the website ChangeYourStars.com and its companion daily motivational / inspirational e-mail messages enjoying a worldwide audience of tens of thousands.  For a free subscription click here and you'll be added within 24 hours.  Privacy Statement
Additional career achievements include Freelance Photographer, Commercial and Corporate Voiceover Specialist, Award Winning Poet, Author, Musician, former Radio DJ in the San Francisco Bay Area, Award Winning play-by-play Football Announcer, and he's a much sought after Motivational  / Inspirational Speaker, Personal Coach, Mentor and Master of Ceremonies.
He's earned three college degrees: Mass Communications, Psychology and History.

He was recently honored by being selected to assist Nashville's
Shine On Foundation, assisting talented songwriters, artists and musicians.

Comments regarding this review may be sent to Jace@jacecarlton.com

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