What better place for fans to see Garth Brooks‘ lavish stage show than RodeoHouston? Likewise, how else should Brooks give Texans a crowd-pleasing surprise than covering an in-state legend?
This ideal scenario unfolded when Brooks covered George Strait’s “The Fireman” during his Feb. 27 set at NRG Stadium. Intentional or not, Brooks selected a hit from a time when home state influences permeated Strait’s hit singles. His spot-on version placed the backup band’s fiddler and those classic lyrics co-written by Mack Vickery at the forefront.
By the sound of things, a crowd primed to sing along with “Friends in Low Places” and other iconic hits instantly recognized Brooks’ big surprise. Brooks must not cover the song often, if he’d ever sung it publicly before, considering a quick Google search of “Garth Brooks Fireman” only brings up the moving story of a cancer patient singing “The Dance.”
With Brooks’ level of crossover success and Strait’s celebrated role in keeping country pure, both artists seem like opposites now. Or at least they’re different when they’re not both singing about rodeos. That said, this cover song comes across as a well-intentioned tribute to a proud Oklahoman’s regional forerunner. Not even an expensive-looking stage setup that resembles something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind distracts from Brooks’ grandiose celebration of Texas music.