'The Thunder Rolls': How Garth Brooks' controversial domestic abuse music video started a much-needed conversation

'The Thunder Rolls' is one of Garth Brooks' most popular songs and tells the story of a man who is cheating on his wife and is 'headed back from somewhere he never should have been'


                            'The Thunder Rolls': How Garth Brooks' controversial domestic abuse music video started a much-needed conversation

It's not every day that a musician manages to make an impact on society with their work. However, when that does happen, you know it's going to be something big.

'The Thunder Rolls' is one of Garth Brooks' most popular songs and tells the story of a man who is cheating on his wife and is "headed back from somewhere he never should have been".

Written by Brooks and long-time collaborator Pat Alger, 'The Thunder Rolls' originally had four verses, with the fourth verse only being played by Brooks in live concerts. That particular verse concluded the story by implying that the man's wife either shot him or herself, and even though he didn't include it on the officially released track, Brooks had plans for the vision behind that verse.

Brooks decided to use the theme of domestic violence in the music video of the song, which shows the husband and wife fighting and ends with the wife killing the husband. Though it did very well with test audiences, the video was banned by networks for its graphic and realistic depiction of domestic abuse. 

It was one of the darkest moments in Brooks' career with the whole nation debating whether or not his video was glorifying abuse, which in hindsight was a ridiculous idea considering the entire point of the song was to be a cautionary tale.

But, irrespective of what Brooks had intended, the song became a topic of controversy nationwide. Until women started talking about it, that is.

A number of women's groups and organizations that work with survivors of domestic abuse began coming out in support of the video. Almost overnight, the tables were turned and the same people who decried Brooks were now praising him. 

It got to the point where VH-1, who don't generally run country music videos that often, announced that they would be adding 'The Thunder Rolls' to their playlists.

What was once a stain on Brooks' career ended up being one of his greatest achievements.

And the cherry on top? The video went on to win Music Video of the Year at the Country Music Awards. 

You can learn more about this story and more interesting moments from Garth Brooks' life in his brand new documentary 'Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On' airing on A&E. Part 1 of the documentary will be dropping on December 2 at 9 PM ET, with Part 2 following the next day at the same time.

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