The earth was literally shaken as Brooks and an audience of over 102,000 sang in unison about “send[ing] my love down to Baton Rouge.”
The small earthquake was captured by LSU’s seismograph — marking the second time in over three decades that Tiger Stadium registered a tremor from cheering fans. The first, WBRZ reported, was when LSU narrowly defeated Auburn University with two minutes left in a 1988 football game.
But more than ever so slightly moving the ground, the commotion increased to dangerous noise levels. Fans’ Apple Watches began shooting up alerts about sound levels reaching 95 decibels — warning that spending “[just] 10 minutes at this level can cause temporary hearing loss.”
“The noise level in the stadium was insane!” a concertgoer commented on Facebook. “I’ve seen Garth before but it wasn’t like this! He is such a great entertainer. It was my 11 year old son’s first concert and he can’t stop talking about it.”
Saturday was the first time Brooks had played in Baton Rouge in 24 years. But “Callin’ Baton Rouge” has been long established as LSU’s unofficial alma mater song.
The song itself might be about “that girl you’ve always wanted to take out,” as Brooks recounted Saturday, but the way it name-drops Baton Rouge — and Louisiana — has cemented its status at LSU. Before the Tigers rush onto the field during football games, speakers in the stadium blare the song to a chorus of singing and clapping fans who emphasize the “Louisiana” in the first verse. It’s also played during the university’s baseball games and as a closing-time song at local bars.
But while Brooks’s rendition, which hit the airwaves in 1994, is the best-known version of “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” the song actually dates to 1978.
Composed by Dennis Linde — the mastermind behind Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love” and the Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” — the song was first recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys, a country and gospel quartet. About a decade later, the bluegrass group New Grass Revival revamped the song for its 1989 album, “Friday Night in America.”
Then, four years later, Brooks — an artist known for his penchant for covering songs while injecting them with his own flair — immortalized “Callin’ Baton Rouge” on his “In Pieces” album. The song peaked at No. 2 on the 1994 country singles charts.
“I have always been a fan of ‘Baton Rouge,’ ” Brooks wrote in the notes released with the “In Pieces” CD, Outsider reported. “I was, still am, and always will be a fan of the members of New Grass Revival, four guys well ahead of their time (even if they came out thirty years from now). ‘Baton Rouge’ was a single for them about the time my first album was released. This song did not even break the top 30 and I believe it did not get a fair shot.”
Everyone wants Garth Brooks on their side. He just wants everyone to get along.
Nearly 30 years after first recording of the song, Brooks could anticipate the sort of emotion it would bring out in Baton Rouge.
“This is going to be loud. This is going to be stupid, and it’s going to go all night long,” he said before the concert, according to WAFB.
A day later, his prediction came true as he led the crowd into a frenzy.
“Thanks for letting us be a small piece of thread in the family and the fabric of the LSU Tigers,” Brooks said as he walked across the stage, white cowboy hat in hand, after performing the song that sent shock waves throughout Baton Rouge.