By the time Garth Brooks released his third album, Ropin' The Wind, he already established himself as a performer who was willing to go against the grain by incorporating rock elements in his otherwise traditional country sound. The album's opening track is a lively bluegrass cut that walks the line between being humble and confident.
"'Against The Grain' kind of said everything about where we were at the time. We couldn't get too big for our britches because of all the success, that way of thinking just doesn't work," Brooks explained in his 2017 book, The Anthology Part 1: The First Five Years. "But at the same time, we needed to stand by it and, you know, have a confidence about it all, a belief. And we believed we were country music, even if we also believed we were coming at it from a different angle. It was a good way to start Ropin'."
This was written by country and bluegrass musicians Larry Cordle and Carl Jackson, along with renowned pedal steel guitarist Bruce Bouton. Cordle founded the band Lonesome Standard Time, which originally recorded the tune "Murder On Music Row
," made famous by George Strait and Alan Jackson. Carl Jackson played in Glen Campbell's band for more than a decade and won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 1991 for Spring Training
The Oak Ridge Boys recorded this as "Goin' Against The Grain" for their 2004 album, The Journey.
Brooks had a love of bluegrass music ever since he was a kid. "The first instrument I ever played was the banjo. Bluegrass was my thing," he recalled in The Anthology Part 1. "We'd go to the flat-picking championships way out in the parking lots. Bluegrass was everything for us and what we started with, all that sibling harmony, those soaring high harmonies of things like Seldom Scene, New Grass Revival."
He continued: "Harmony gives life, and harmony gives different angles to look at things, because the notes that they're singing are different notes. You'll look at a verse straight on, in one dimension or two dimensions, but when those harmonies hit in the chorus, it gets three-dimensional."
Garth gives a few examples of folks throughout history who weren't afraid to take risks, including Noah, who built the ark to survive the Great Flood in the biblical story from Genesis, Christopher Columbus, and Hollywood cowboy John Wayne.