Music

Charley Pride Joins Garth Brooks on New Song 'Where the Cross Don't Burn'

Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

A standout track on Garth Brooks' new album Fun, "Where the Cross Don't Burn," pairs him with one of country music's greatest living vocalists, 86-year-old Charley Pride.

In an interview with the Washington Post's Emily Yahr, Brooks says that recent rumors on the "misinformation highway" inspired him to finally ask Pride to join him in the studio.

"I slammed the laptop and Miss (Trisha) Yearwood said, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'Charley Pride passed away,'" Brooks says of the false report. "'I blew it. I've had a song I wanted to sing with him for 10 years and my lazy ass didn't get it done. It's just one of those things where I just blew my chance.'"

Of course, Pride's alive and well and fresh off accepting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 CMA Awards. He also performed his signature hit "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with Jimmie Allen during this year's broadcast.

Pride's history with the CMA Awards includes his 1971 Entertainer of the Year win and his 1975 co-hosting gig alongside Glen Campbell. Both career milestones were firsts for Black performers.

After learning that reports of a country legend's demise were greatly exaggerated, Brooks reached out to Pride and his wife Rozene. That exchange led to Brooks' trip to Dallas to record "Where the Cross Don't Burn" with a dream collaborator.

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Songwriters Troy Jones and Phil Thomas' "Where the Cross Don't Burn" tells of a young white boy's special bond with an older Black man in a segregated society. It's reminiscent of not just Lynyrd Skynyrd's "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" but also the real-life African American mentors of pioneering country stars, including Hank Williams' inspiration Tee Tot (Rufus Payne) and one of Bill Monroe's guiding lights, innovative fiddler Arnold Schultz.

It's not the only superstar duet on Fun. Brooks is the Bradley Cooper to wife Trisha Yearwood's Lady Gaga on "Shallow" from the A Star is Born soundtrack. Blake Shelton team-up "Dive Bar" made the track list, as well.

Brooks' new studio album also features the gospel-funk vibes of "Amen" and a nod to Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and other countrified beach bums, "Message in a Bottle."

Fun's Nov. 20 release coincided with the arrival of another stocking stuffer, Triple Live Deluxe.

On Dec. 20, Brooks and Yearwood return to CBS' primetime lineup with Garth & Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event. Brooks and Yearwood will keep COVID-19 (coronavirus) precautions in mind, filming the holiday special at their home recording studio with a minimal crew practicing social distancing and no live studio audience. For information on how to request your favorite country song about the holiday season, keep an eye on Brooks' Facebook Live series, Inside Studio G.

Fun Track Listing

1. "The Road I'm On" (Randall King, Garth Brooks)
2. "That's What Cowboys Do" (John Martin, Mitch Rossell, Brooks)
3. "All Day Long" (Bryan Kennedy, Rossell, Brooks)
4. "Shallow" feat. Trisha Yearwood (Stefani Germanotta, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson)
5. "Dive Bar" feat. Blake Shelton (Rossell, Kennedy, Brooks)
6. "Amen" (Bobby Terry, Matt Rossi, Brooks)
7. "The Courage of Love" (Martin, Brooks)
8. "I Can Be Me With You" (Benita Hill, Amanda Colleen Williams)
9. "Message in a Bottle" (Jenny Yates, Garth Brooks)
10. "Stronger Than Me" (Rossi, Terry)
11. "(A Hard Way to Make an) Easy Livin'" (Rossi, Terry)
12. "Where the Cross Don't Burn" feat. Charley Pride (Troy Jones, Phil Thomas)
13. "Party Gras (The Mardi Gras Song)" (Rossi, Brooks)
14. "(Sometimes You've Got to Die to) Live Again" (Gabe Dixon, Wayne Kirkpatrick)

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Charley Pride Joins Garth Brooks on New Song 'Where the Cross Don't Burn'