So now we know: Garth Brooks announced on Monday that his long-awaited album, FUN, will be released Nov. 20. And at some point, hopefully next year, he'll resume his certain-to-sell-out stadium tour.
But in a world that seems to never get enough of the superstar, there's always a lingering question: What's next after that?
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Brooks shared what he's been thinking could follow the stadium tour's scheduled end in 2022.
With no firm decisions yet, "I can tell you the things I really love that I get to do," the 58-year-old artist said. "I loved the one-man show in Vegas — really loved it — just because it's what I did in college, and I would love to take a look at that again, if anybody's interested."
He also confirms he still holds a fascination with screenwriting, which he first publicly voiced in the early 2000s. "I like writing, but I also love screenwriting," he says. "You know, I've never got to dive deep into that, but if there is a next page in my life, I would hope that that's kind of involved in there somehow. I just love creating."
In fact, Brooks conceived his most famous fictional creation, rock star Chris Gaines, as a movie character. Posing as Gaines, Brooks released an album of Gaines' "greatest hits" in 1999 — a daring career detour that initially sparked confusion and even derision. Though plans for a companion film project never materialized, the album has maintained a loyal fan following over the years, and Brooks confirms one more thing he's been thinking about for the future: a possible Gaines redux.
"What I love about that is, over the test of time now, the music has not waned," he says. "That is the most important thing. As much as the front end of the idea may have been botched by whomever, including the artist, what I love about it is the music still remains fresh and new. So there's a chance there to kind of explore that and see what's out there in that world, because that was the most work I'd ever done. I'd never called this business work. That one, I would. But again, like the one-man show in Vegas, I really enjoyed the things you got to explore in the Gaines project. It was fun."
Brooks' interest in the intersection of music and film has also recently come into play with his budding friendship with actor Chris Pratt. The two first met last year when Pratt, a longtime Brooks fan, introduced the artist when he accepted iHeartRadio's Artist of the Decade award. Last June, Pratt revealed on a Rob Lowe podcast that he and Brooks were "doing something" that was "kind of top secret."
Brooks confirms the "something" is "with music and movies," but "that's all I'm gonna say because of the way music and movies work, I don't know that world … I think he's just looking for music."
He is reasonably certain about one thing: Their collaboration won't happen soon. "If you look at his schedule, with Jurassic Park [sequel, due in 2022], he's so busy," Brooks says. "I don't know when he's going to find time to do this, but it's sweet to hear him talk about it in interviews."
As Brooks thinks about exploring his varied interests, he says he's been taking a cue from another country legend, Dolly Parton, after recently watching a new Netflix documentary about her.
"She said, 'I'm country because I'm from the hills of east Tennessee," he says. "She goes, 'I'm never going to change. At the same time, I'm going to explore things like [the film] 9 to 5 and pop [music] — just where your gifts kind of take you. That sure made me feel a lot better about knowing who I am as a country artist. You can go and play in the other fields a little bit and have fun with it."
Whatever ends up on Brooks' to-do list, he's obviously eager to just keep making music. Two years away from turning 60, he points to a favorite quote from tennis great Martina Navratilova to explain the fire that still drives him.
"The basic gist," he says of the quote, "is the ball does not know how old I am … What that tells me is, no matter what age you are, you're still competing to be the best person you can be. So if you're still in music, you're still competing."
Aa happy as he is to be releasing his new album next month, he's now longing to make the magic happen again at his live concerts.
"That's what I want to be doing," he says. "I want to see those signs. I want to see those people that are at the end of their rope and somehow have found a light through music. Somehow, they've made a friend at a concert that changes their life and forever they're best buddies — that sort of thing. I want to see people leaving that stadium loving each other more than when they got there."
Join Brooks as he previews FUN and companion album Triple Live Deluxe on his talkshop.live channel at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT Wednesday.
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