Despite constant attention and fame, Garth Brooks hasn't lost his boy-next-door charm and candor.
"Sorry for bein' late," Brooks said as he entered a room in the Metra for a press conference before his concert Saturday.
Wearing a baseball jersey, baseball cap, shorts and tennis shoes, Brooks didn't look or act like the top country singer in the United States.
But pretense isn't Brooks' style, even though this boyish blue-eyed Oklahoman has sold more than 16 million records. Well-known in the country music scene, Garth Brooks has even attracted followers from the pop and rock crowds. His 1991 "Ropin' The Wind" album was the first country album ever to enter Billboard's pop chart at No. 1.
What has shot him to stardom, he was asked.
"I just say my prayer at night," said Brooks, adding that he hopes when he wakes up in the morning that he's still popular. He apologized for not answering the question better but as to what's behind the Garth Brooks phenomenon, he said, "I just don't have a clue."
Brooks said the best part about fame is being "spoiled to death" by fans and by his wife Sandy, who is expecting a baby girl next month. Brooks is confident that his daughter, already named Taylor, will be a "daddy's girl."
Brooks said that being on the road is difficult when "the woman you're supposed to spend your life with is 2,000 miles away." However, two months after the child is born, he hopes that Sandy and Taylor will also be able to join him on the road.
The drummer in Brooks' band recently had a child, he said, and "We're thinking about getting a baby bus for the mommas and the babies and a professional nurse."
He has advised any up-and-coming singers to "be yourself." If you become a hit, great. If you don't at least you were true to yourself, he said.
Brooks praised an up-and-coming songwriter from Bridger, Montana — Stephanie Davis. Like Brooks and many others, "she gave up everything to move out there (Nashville)," he said.
Davis wrote the song "Wolves" on Brooks' "No Fences" album and has also written to of the four or five singles off Brooks' next album.
What would he be doing if he weren't singing?
Brooks didn't really know.
"I sucked at everything I tried to do," he responded, in his characteristic straightforward style. "That sometimes scares me if I'm not prepared, if God takes this away from me."
However, he said, if his musical relationship with his fans stops being the "passionate exchange" it is now, he will have his family -- plus plenty of money to support him.
"When this thing is over for me, I'll get my little girl and my wife," he said. "The good Lord has given me more than I could spend 24 hours a day."
Time's up, Brooks' managers said. The press conference was over
Brooks left to prepare for his Billings concert with, "Again, I'm sorry I was late. Take care."