I was having a spirited debate with some friends regarding a quote in an article about Garth Brooks and his performance at President Biden's inauguration yesterday. The article said, "Brooks has played almost every inauguration since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, save for Ronald Reagan’s and [45]’s." 


[image courtesy of Rick Diamond via Dallas Observer]

I immediately doubted the veracity of this quote because of the use of the word "since." And simple math and logic.

The way that quote reads, it can be liberally interpreted one of two ways... that Garth has "played almost every inauguration since [and including] Jimmy Carter" or "since [but not including] Jimmy Carter." In the first, he began performing at them in 1977; in the latter, it's 1981.

A quick Wiki check says that Brooks was born in February 7, 1962, making him 14 years old in 1977 and also predating his professional country music career by eight years (1985).

I argued that the correct way to interpret this would mean that "since" infers "after," so the quote is trying to say he has played almost every inauguration after Jimmy Carter's one and only, right?

This is where I argued that the quote is very misleading because, if you know your presidential history, the ordering is Carter - Reagan - Reagan - Bush 1 - Clinton - Clinton - Bush 2 - Bush 2 - Obama - Obama - 45 - Biden. So "since Jimmy Carter" but "save for Ronald Reagan" means Brooks didn't actually start playing at the ceremonies until eight years later. 1989 vs. the implied 1981. Usually when you talk about streaks, for example in sports, you refer to the first event in a series as the "since" kickoff point. This article is referring to the first in a series that predates the actual first by eight years, or 12 if you interpret the other way.

So why not just say that he's performed at almost all inaugurations starting with George H.W. Bush on forward, except 45? 

This is not to say that what Brooks has done isn't impressive. It damn well is. It's an honor to be asked to play once, let alone eight times! But, can we use more precise language, Dallas Observer?

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Suzanne Apgar

I would LOVE to see him perform live!!

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