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Secrets of Garth Brooks’ “8teen” Revealed

And the girl made in Japan was made for me to hold

When Vincent lent an ear the night the thunder rolled

And the ride they took together was a rodeo

Big dreams, 6 strings, 8teen

So read the lyrics to the second verse of Garth Brooks’ cryptic (and addictive) “8teen” from his latest album “Gunslinger”.  Titled after a frequently reoccurring number in his life, 8teen is a riddle-filled treasure hunt of a song written specifically by Garth for his biggest fans to decipher.  Clues to the multilayered meanings are provided by way of inside info scattered throughout the song. Turns out the second verse may be the most inside of all.

Who was “the girl made in Japan”? One of the first guesses was that it referenced the 1972 Buck Owens song, “Made in Japan”…a logical deduction considering Garth was a big fan and good friend of the late, great King of Bakersfield. So much so that Garth proposed to Trisha Yearwood at Owens’ Crystal Palace with Buck presiding.

And certainly the “Vincent” who “lent an ear” must be an homage to Don McLean’s classic song “Vincent” about Vincent Van Gogh, who you might say lent an ear. Another great guess since fans all know of Garth’s great love and respect for McLean. Plus, the two have been known to share a stage.

Finally, and most obvious, “the night the thunder rolled” references Garth’s song “The Thunder Rolls” and “6 strings” describes a guitar.

Cool… second verse riddle solved… right?  Except…what do all those elements have to do with each other?  And as valid as they all may be…why are they in the same verse?  It didn’t quite gel…until…

Someone finally surmised (and Garth confirmed) that “the girl made in Japan for me to hold”, was primarily a reference to the Takamine guitar that Garth has played his entire career… and that the “Vincent” who “lent an ear the night the thunder rolled”, was Takamine’s longtime Artist Relations Mgr. David Vincent, who first encountered the up-and-coming country artist at a 1990 live-performance preview of the yet-to-be released “No Fences” album for a modest fan club gathering in Nashville.  The opening song on that new album? The Thunder Rolls.

Indeed Garth’s dreams were big, and the ride he and Takamine have taken together has been quite a rodeo.  The No Fences album entered the top of both the country and pop charts and remained in Billboard’s Top 40 for nearly 2 ½ years, establishing the mighty Oklahoman as America’s first bona fide crossover superstar. His record-smashing comeback tour is currently in its third year, selling-out multiple shows in arenas throughout North America – and Takamine, as always, is privileged to play its supporting role, most noticeably via Garth’s model GB7C.  

Still, for Garth Brooks to mention us in a song, was to say the very least, an unexpected honor.

For upcoming concert dates and all things Garth, visit The album Gunslinger, the song 8teen and current single Ask Me How I Know are available at Amazon Music.