PETER SAGAL, HOST:
It was about a year later we got around to speaking to her husband - Mr. Trisha Yearwood, also known as Garth Brooks - one of the biggest stars in the history of country music.
BILL KURTIS: Peter asking if his life followed the country music stereotype - growing up in difficulty and deprivation.
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GARTH BROOKS: Yeah. I'm not sure what deprivation means, but yes.
SAGAL: Well, tell me what it was like.
ADAM FELBER: Wow.
SAGAL: Tell me what it was like...
FELBER: He was so poor, he didn't even have deprivation.
SAGAL: Tell me what it was...
BROOKS: Yeah (laughter).
SAGAL: Tell me what it was like growing up.
BROOKS: Last of six kids - five boys, one girl. All five boys shared a room. Me and my brother's bed would roll out at night. We'd get in it, and they'd roll it up and stick it back in the closet. Sister, of course, was the only girl, so she had her own room. So everybody wanted to kill her.
SAGAL: So you became, not to put too fine a point on it, probably the biggest country music act that ever has been. Do you have any reason why it was that your music became so universally popular, even people without - who weren't country fans?
BROOKS: No, I don't have a clue. You know, a lot of things happened right at the right time. It's all timing because here in Nashville - this isn't a statement of humbleness, it's a statement of honesty - your waiter can out-sing you, out-write you, out-play you. I mean, everyone here is talented. I think it's just...
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Where do you eat?
BROOKS: If you've seen me, I eat everywhere.
SAGAL: Speaking of which, when we talked to your wife, Ms. Yearwood, we were talking about her cookbook that included something called, if I'm not mistaken, Garth's breakfast bowl. And it had eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese and tortellini.
BROOKS: Yes, baby. The last was my idea.
SAGAL: Do you...
BROOKS: Last night, she was making homemade ice cream. I said, you know what that needs? A little tortellini.
BROOKS: Was Ms. Yearwood there in person?
SAGAL: Yes, she was.
BROOKS: Ten to one, when you mentioned all her accolades - her books, her show and everything, and then you said Garth's breakfast bowl, she probably rolled her eyes, didn't she?
POUNDSTONE: She was a...
SAGAL: It's possible.
SAGAL: It's possible.
POUNDSTONE: She was a little dismissive.
BROOKS: She calls it - she gets mad because of all those great recipes in there, and people talk about this one. And she thinks it's more of a compilation than a recipe.
SAGAL: Sort of...
SAGAL: Not so much an original album but a kind of a medley...
SAGAL: ...of other foods that don't necessarily belong together.
FELBER: But they're all hits.
BROOKS: Amen. She's just mad. I'm the brains behind the cooking show, everything.
SAGAL: I have now - I've obviously met and talked to your wife. Now I've talked to you. You seem, seriously, like the happiest married couple I've ever spoken to. How in the world, given that peace, happiness and affection in your home life, do you ever write a country song?
BROOKS: Yeah, amen. Well, here's how. I always - if you've ever seen us anywhere, I always introduce her as the love of my life.
BROOKS: She introduces me as her current husband.
FELBER: There it is.
BROOKS: That's how we kind of get along. She just keeps me - she goes - screw up, I'm out of here. So I walk a pretty fine line.
SAGAL: Well, Garth Brooks, we are so delighted to talk to you as we work our way through your entire family.
SAGAL: We've invited you here, though, today to play a game we're calling...
KURTIS: Garth Brooks - Meet Garth Books.
SAGAL: So you made...
SAGAL: ...The name Garth famous in music, but there is a noble history of Garths in literature, it turns out. We're going to ask you three questions about books by people named Garth - Garth books. And if you get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of Carl Kasell crooning on their voicemail.
Bill, who is Garth Brooks playing for?
KURTIS: Ainsley Gordon of Mobile, Ala.
SAGAL: All right. Your first Garth author is Garth Clark. He's from South Africa, and he has written several books about art collecting, including which of these - A, "Sad Clown Paintings: The Beauty Behind The Frown Behind The Smile"...
SAGAL: ...B, "Black Velvet: The Medium Is The Message"...
SAGAL: ...Or C, "The Eccentric Teapot: 400 Years Of Innovation"?
BROOKS: Can phone a friend?
SAGAL: You can phone anybody you want but not now.
BROOKS: Hey, Ms. Yearwood?
BROOKS: Just pick A, B or C for me.
TRISHA YEARWOOD: B.
KURTIS: There she is.
SAGAL: Wait a minute, you just asked your wife, Trisha Yearwood, to pick a letter at random?
BROOKS: I tell you, how else would I know if I'm right?
SAGAL: Yeah. All right.
KURTIS: That's dangerous.
SAGAL: So you're going to go with - she said B, right?
BROOKS: She said B.
SAGAL: All right. It was C, "The Eccentric Teapot."
BROOKS: Nice job, honey. I thought it was C, but she said B.
BROOKS: But here's your next question. Actress Jenny Garth of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame, wrote a memoir in which she confessed what - A, that Luke Perry ran her over with a Jet Ski; B, that she found her own TV show to be, quote, "a jejune pastiche of proletariat aspiration," unquote...
SAGAL: ...Or C, that the only way she could get through a day on set was to huff paint?
BROOKS: Yeah. I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: You're going to go with A, Luke Perry running her over...
SAGAL: ...With a Jet Ski? You're not even going to check with Ms. Yearwood? You're just going to go for it?
BROOKS: No. She's not any good at this game.
SAGAL: You're right, by the way.
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SAGAL: It was A.
BROOKS: All right.
SAGAL: Her co-star Luke Perry ran over her with a Jet Ski.
SAGAL: All right. You have one more question. If you get this right, you will win, as I'm pretty sure your wife did some months ago. Here you go. Sir Samuel Garth was a physician and poet in 17th-century London. Samuel Garth's greatest work was which of these - A, a play about the human body with characters such as spleen, liver and pancreas...
SAGAL: ...B, an epic poem making fun of pharmacists; or C, "Enemies In Low Places," an essay about diseases of the crotch.
BROOKS: I'm going to have to go with A just because I got a choice between A and B because I think C's out.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: No. In fact, it was the poem making fun of pharmacists.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Aw.
BROOKS: Dang it.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Garth Brooks do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, technically he didn't swing 2, but he swung 1. And that is Oklahoma strong, Garth.
BROOKS: Oh, thank you very much.
KURTIS: So you're always a winner with us.
SAGAL: Garth Brooks, thank you so much for joining us...
SAGAL: ...On WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME. Love to Ms. Yearwood. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.