During this week in 1990, Garth Brooks had a pretty impressive run going on the national country charts with two songs in the Top 20 at the same time. “Friends In Low Places” was at No. 17 in Billboard on its way down after peaking at No. 1, and “Unanswered Prayers” bolted to No. 8 after just eight weeks on the chart.
Two decades later, Garth still remembers one of the lessons he drew from those two songs, which cast ex-romances in very different atmospheres. “Low Places” is a drunken intrusion into the black-tie reception of an ex-girlfriend, while “Prayers” is a thoughtful note of thanks that an old flame flickered out. “Low Places” is still an iconic song for country fans, and it was a pretty smart move to not follow it up with something that had the same sort of party spirit.
“The thing that I loved about ‘Unanswered Prayers’ was when something big happens in your career, it’s what happens next [that] defines the rest of your career,” Garth told The Oklahoman. “So ‘Unanswered Prayers’ had to be something of pretty good strength to hold up. And it did. And it went to No. 1. That was a very defining moment for me that ‘OK, I can have something like “Friends in Low Places” and then I can follow it with “Unanswered Prayers,”’ which made me start to think about the diversity in your choice of music.”
Ultimately, “Unanswered Prayers” has established a little diversity in entertainment formats, too. Not only was it a successful country single, it’s now become a TV movie, set to debut Monday on Lifetime Television. Garth is an executive producer on the project, but there were still a lot more people involved in creating it — actors, writers, set designers, the camera crew, the network executives — than the handful of creative people involved in writing and recording the original song.
“I’m amazed anybody ever makes a movie, it’s got so many ways to fall apart,” he said. “If you’ll learn real quick that you really have no control over it, you’ll be a lot better. You just don’t. There’s just too many hands, too many different opinions. And you just pray and look for good karma that everything kind of runs on the same theme. And this one really did. The crew was sincere, cast was sincere, and it was wonderful.”
Eric Close and Samantha Mathis have the lead roles in the TV movie, which also features Patty Duke in a minor part. “Unanswered Prayers” debuts Monday on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET.