The Red Strokes

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"The Red Strokes"
Garth Brooks - The Red Strokes.jpg
Single by Garth Brooks
from the album In Pieces
B-side "Burning Bridges"
Released November 15, 1994
Format CD Single
7" 45 RPM
Genre Country rock
Length 3:44 (album version)
Label Liberty
Writer(s) James Garver, Lisa Sanderson, Jenny Yates, Garth Brooks
Producer(s) Allen Reynolds
Garth Brooks singles chronology
"Callin' Baton Rouge"
"The Red Strokes"
"She's Every Woman"
Part 2 Cover

"The Red Strokes" is a single by country music artist Garth Brooks from his album, In Pieces. While only charting on the country charts in the U.S. (#49) and Canada (#38) as an album cut, it became one of his most popular songs in the United Kingdom, peaking at #13. This song has not been featured on any of Brooks's greatest hits albums in the United States. The video, however, was included in The Entertainer DVD box set.


"The Red Strokes" is a mid-tempo love ballad played predominantly on the piano and electric guitar. The narrator describes a romantic interlude in the form of a painting using multiple related metaphors: "Inspired by a vision that they can't command", "erasing the borders with each brush of a hand". Some oxymoronic elements are also present "Thundering moments of tenderness rage", "Tempered and strong" and "Burning the night like the dawn". The writer concludes with color metaphors: "the blues will be blue", and "jealousies green" but most importantly "when LOVE picks its shade it demands to be seen", inferring RED. As a final note, one of the themes of the piece is that the passions within us need to be restrained, and that two of the times it is proper to let them out, are when two people are in LOVE, or in a piece of art.

According to Garth, in his linear notes for the UK version of The Hits album, which included the song due to its huge success there, the song originated as a poem sent to him from Paris by Lisa Sanderson, one of the co-writers of the song. Lisa wrote that she had written the poem after seeing a piece of artwork at The Louvre. "The piece was nothing but a bunch of brush strokes" she wrote. "The most prominent strokes were done in red and it made me think, if I were to look at my life and paint it like this, with red representing my life's loves, heartaches, and passionate moments, how many red strokes would it have?" The lyrics themselves, according to both Sanderson and Brooks, don't differentiate much from that original poem.

Music video[edit]

The video opens with an all-white room. As the music begins to play, Brooks is shown rising out of the floor from a red puddle like it was water in an all-white suit and barefoot sitting at a white piano. As the music builds up, the different colors of paint represented (red, blue, and green) are splashed across him and the piano. During the guitar solo, another Brooks is standing over the first Brooks on the piano wearing a black and red outfit. The video ends with him in a final all white scene, with the fade out done as red paint (digitally inserted) runs down the screen.

The overhead shots and the shots of blue on the hands and green on the feet were done by David Gant, the piano player for Brooks's tour band.

The piano rising from the puddle was not done with digital enhancement. It's actually the video they shot (piano going down into the paint) playing in reverse. Vince Montefusco, mechanical & explosives special effects expert, designed and built the hydraulic rig. He was also involved with some of the directing of this dangerous stunt. Brooks did all the opening motions backwards and Vince lowered him in to the pit. There was a safety medical team standing by in case the hydraulic rig failed to lift him out of the pit.

Montefusco was also responsible for the mud-based red paint used in the video. According to Brooks on his "Video Collection Volume II" VHS, it took two days to shoot the opening scene due to the paint itself. 35 gallons of red paint were used during the entire shoot, a majority of it for the opening scene alone. When the piano was lowered the first time, they filled up the pit with straight up paint. Due to the thickness of the paint, the lowering mechanism stuck and stopped out. Brooks noted he was grateful it stopped out because he started having hypothermia due to the paint being cold from having been stored outside the previous night.

After thinking over it overnight and pitching the idea to John Small, the director of the video, Montefusco and his team returned and thinned out the paint by adding a 500 gallon mixture of mud and water to the paint, not only giving them more fluid to work with but also warming it up in the process. According to Garth "it was like diving into a pool".

For the final line of the bridge, the initial blast of red paint from overhead is done by a fire hose and Vince Montefusco's special effects team. If slowed down enough, the scene itself is revealed to be two different shots in one. Right after the initial blast is done by the hose, when slowed frame by frame, Garth getting dumped on by two buckets (off camera) of red paint is not done in the same shot as the fire hose.

"Red Strokes" won the 1994 Music Video of the Year Award at the ACMs, which, according to Brooks on his "Video Collection Volume II" VHS, was plaqued up and shipped to David Gant for his work on the video and the extra effort he put into it.

Release Notes[edit]

In the United Kingdom, "The Red Strokes" was released as a two-part single. Both parts containing the song as well as other songs from previous albums. Part two was released one week after part 1 and contained an interview with Brooks.

Track listing[edit]

7" Jukebox single Liberty S7-18554, 1993

  1. "The Red Strokes" - 3:43
  2. "Burning Bridges"

UK CD single Capitol PM515, 1993
Part 1

  1. "The Red Strokes"
  2. "Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)"
  3. "The Dance"
  4. "That Summer"

Part 2

  1. "The Red Strokes"
  2. "Friend in Low Places"
  3. "Every Now and Then"
  4. Interview

UK Cassette single Liberty TC-CL 704, 1993
Sides 1 & 2

  1. "The Red Strokes"
  2. "Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)"

Dutch CD single Liberty 7243 8 81127 2 7, 1993

  1. "The Red Strokes" - 3:44
  2. "Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)" - 4:31
  3. "The Dance" - 3:41
  4. "That Summer" - 4:47

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[1] 38
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[2] 32
Irish Singles Chart[3] 7
New Zealand Singles Chart[4] 34
UK Singles Chart[5] 13
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 49



External links[edit]