In what will undoubtedly be a rare occasion for the country music luminary Garth Brooks, the one song everyone is expecting to hear at his April 30 concert at Tiger Stadium will for once not be the downhome anthem “Friends in Low Places.”
No, the song all 102,321 attendees—yes, the stadium is slated to reach capacity—will be expecting in rapt anticipation will, of course, be “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” It’s the tune that’s become synonymous with both the Red Stick and Death Valley itself.
While the song charted at No. 2 on the national country chart when Brooks released it in 1993, its role as a cultural fixture in Baton Rouge really cemented when the LSU football team began using it as its pump-up pregame song. Ever since then, it has become an indispensable part of the Tigers’ pregame festivities, with fans, players and coaches alike singing along at every game. garthbrooks.com
About ‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’
• First released in 1978 by the Oak Ridge Boys and then again in ’89 by New Grass Revival, the song was largely unknown by the residents of its namesake city. But when Garth Brooks partnered with members of the then-disbanded Oak Ridge Boys to record his own rendition of the song for his 1993 album In Pieces, Red Stickers caught on, helping it to top national country charts in 1994.
• “What we put into the mix was that hard-rock bottom end,” Brooks wrote of the song in his 2017 book, The Anthology: The First Five Years. “Nobody had hit the Rockman on this thing, and it’s going to grab your attention, grab you by the collar and shake the s——t out of you the whole time you’re singing it.”
• Brooks called “Callin’ Baton Rouge” his “favorite song to perform, hands down” in a NOLA.com interview.
• “‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’ just catches you off guard, and the whole crowd goes to another gear and they don’t come down from there,” Brooks said during an episode of Vocal Point, a podcast hosted by singer-songwriter Martina McBride.
About Garth Brooks
• His full name is Troyal Garth Brooks, but he opted to use his middle name for his stage persona.
• While Elvis Presley is the best-selling worldwide artist with 1 billion total sales, Brooks trumps him in U.S. sales, with 157 million albums sold in the states. (Presley’s domestic sales numbered 129.5 million.)
• Brooks is often credited with evolving country music into the pop spectacle it is today, incorporating elements from ’70s arena rock, like intricate light displays and pyrotechnics.
• In 1999, Brooks released the rock album Garth Brooks in… the Life of Chris Gaines, in which he assumed the persona of fictional character Chris Gaines, the protagonist of The Lamb, a never-released movie following the life of a wayward rocker.
• Brooks graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1984 with a degree in advertising. Evidently, the ad world wasn’t his calling, as he began his musical career later that year playing in Oklahoma bars and nightclubs.
• Brooks retired from music in 2000 at the age of 38 to focus on raising his three daughters, promising fans they’d see him again when his youngest turned 18. In 2009, he reentered public life with a series of weekend shows along the Las Vegas Strip.
About Tiger Stadium
• This will be the first concert at Tiger Stadium since the COVID-19 pandemic; the last was Bayou Country Superfest 2019.
• While Tiger Stadium has been called everything from “the best” to “the scariest” and “the most feared” place for opposing football teams to play in America, it’s quite a different atmosphere for musicians. During her 2015 Death Valley show, Taylor Swift told the audience she “loved the sight” of the crowd and found the audience “very, very welcoming.”
• When the stadium was first constructed in the 1920s, its seating capacity was only 24,000. After numerous renovations throughout its 98-year lifespan the stadium gradually grew to the 102,321-seat colosseum it is today.
• Tiger Stadium is among the top 10 largest stadiums in the country.
This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue of 225 magazine.
SOURCES: RIAA, LSUSports.net, Songfacts, news reports