Garth Brooks

Giddy-Up!

Outjo, Namibia—Growing up in Namibia in the 1980s, Willem Bezuidenhout was alone with his cowboy dream. He wallpapered his father’s house in the capital of Windhoek with posters of Hopalong Cassidy and shunned play dates to watch The War Wagon again and again in his darkened bedroom, pausing the tape to trace John Wayne’s image onto pieces of translucent paper that he pressed up to the screen. His playmates—the sons of Namibia’s white farmers, doctors, or lawyers, like his father—made fun of him. But that was before the white communities of southern Africa went crazy for country.

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Anyone on the Mall yesterday will tell you: The crowd's favorite performer by a good margin was Garth Brooks, who played a raucous medley of "American Pie," "Shout"  and his own "We Shall Be Free." (I don't want to shock, but the audience at Barack Obama's inauguration concert preferred the non-country numbers.) Brooks has been semi-retired for the entire Bush presidency, but maybe Obama can lure him back to work with a certain open cabinet position: After all, it might be helpful if a key voice on the new president's economic team got a little bit louder now (hey!). --Ben Wasserstein

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