It is hard to believe that it’s been almost three decades since Garth Brooks crossed genre lines with an epic cover of Billy Joel‘s “Shameless.” Brooks famously turned the love-struck ballad into a pure-country anthem in 1991 and took it all the way to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart as well as on Canada Country Tracks chart.
And back in 2008, the country legend returned to the stage alongside Joel. It was to commemorate the closing of New York City’s Shea Stadium – the historic home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. The stadium would soon be demolished to make way for Citi Field. But before that happened, Joel performed in a star-packed two sold-out night’s show, and Brooks was present to help knock out of the park one last time.
Music legend Joel welcomed the country music superstar on stage for a breathtaking performance of the rocker’s original, “Shameless.” Brooks and Joel gave the audience members a taste of two greatly different artists with one important similarity: their musical talent.
Brooks rocked the lead vocals while Joel accompanied him with his backup vocals and piano skills that are better than anything else. The performance did not only stuck true to Brooks’ original tempo but at the same time incorporated rock elements that brought the song to a new musical level!
As the song went on, Brooks approached Joel’s piano and savored the pianists’ vocals as he proudly sang the heart-wrenching hit song! The two joined in song to profoundly showcase their vocal abilities that coincided perfectly with the other! Needless to say, fans were impressed at the star power!
The Song That Played An Integral Role In Brooks’ Career
Written by Billy Joel himself, “Shameless” tells the tale of a man who is strong enough to resist all the temptations surrounding him until he meets his significant other.
“Well, I’m shameless when it comes to loving you. I’ll do anything you want me to. I’ll do anything at all. And I’m standing here for all the world to see. Oh, baby, that’s what’s left of me, I don’t have very far to fall,” the song goes.
“Shameless” was originally recorded by Joel as part of his 1989 Storm Front album, peaking at No. 40 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. Brooks covered it for his album, Ropin’ the Win in 1991.
“I was on the road for six months with no one to check the mail and came home to find six compact discs in my mailbox. Storm Front by Billy Joel was one of them,” Brooks wrote on the booklet liner notes from his compilation, The Hits. “I hadn’t listened to Billy Joel since the late seventies. I fell in love with the album and fell back in love with Billy Joel’s music.”
Of course, “Shameless” is one of the songs that really captured Brooks. So he contacted Joel’s people, hoping that he could cut it. Brooks continued, “His people sent us a letter acknowledging that he knew who I was and was very honored that I was cutting it. That was quite a compliment for me then, as it is now. My hope is that Billy, as a writer, hears this cut and says, ‘Yeah, man, the guy’s got balls.'”
And what’s even more interesting was that Brooks’ version featured background vocals from his frequent collaborator Trisha Yearwood, whom he would later marry. “Shameless” then became one of Brooks’ most durable hits, earning airplay at country radio even today, decades later.
Joel, on the other hand, said to the crowd at his 1995 concert in Nuremberg, Germany, that he was grateful to Brooks for bringing the song to country fans – many of whom had never heard his music before.
Anyway, you should see Brooks teaming up with Joel to perform “Shameless” live at Shea Stadium in the video below. This performance is absolutely worth reliving.
Billy Joel, Garth Brooks