Much has been written about Charley Pride‘s kindness, generosity and passion for country music in the two days since his death, but Garth Brooks recalls him as something quite different as well: stubborn.
Brooks uses the adjective in the most endearing way in talking to Billboard about recording “Where the Cross Don’t Burn” with Pride. The song was featured on Brooks’ new Fun album, released in November and available for streaming on Amazon Music. Pride died of complications from COVID-19 on Saturday (Dec. 12).
Speaking to Billboard about Pride as a musical perfectionist, Brooks recalls recording the song at the 86-year-old’s studio in Dallas in September. Much like the older Black man and younger white kid they sing about, they were friends for decades before Pride’s death (Spoiler alert: Pride’s character in “Where the Cross Don’t Burn” also dies).
“He’s stubborn, and that’s a blessing and a curse,” the 58-year-old Brooks shares. “He would not let this melody go. He kept going after it until he got it right. I was very appreciative of the work that he puts into it when he’s in the studio.”
The segregation era story was tucked away for 10 years in a pile of great songs Brooks hoped to record one day, always figuring to ask Pride to join him. Talking to CMT in November, Brooks revealed that he’d thought he’d missed his chance earlier this year when he saw a news report that said Pride had died. That report, as it turns out, was a hoax.
“So I don’t know how karma works. I don’t know how signs are,” Brooks tells CMT, “but my silver living in the misinformation highway was that it got me to do what I should’ve done ten years ago. And I thought Charley was fantastic.”
The pair had planned additional recordings in 2021, Brooks admits during this most recent interview.
In addition to recording with Brooks in 2020, Pride cut a song called “Why Things Happen” with Jimmie Allen and Darius Rucker. He also performed “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” at the 2020 CMA Awards with Allen. That same night, he took home the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Country Stars React to Charley Pride’s Death: