Garth Brooks, in case you’ve been wondering, is still Garth Brooks. Meaning, the guy can still throw down a show-stopping performance, command an arena stage no matter how many millions of people are watching in person and on TV, and pull at heartstrings with words and music built out of real, honest human emotion.
For his performance tonight at the 50th ACM Awards, Brooks chose “All-American Kid,” a new song written by Craig Campbell that appears on Brooks’ 2014 album Man Against Machine.
It’s a touching song that Brooks handled masterfully, keeping things low key but making sure the words—about a high school football hero who joins the military and then pays the ultimate price—cut right to the core.
Related: The 2015 ACM Awards Live Blog
The performance was given added poignancy, though, when it was introduced by Taya Kyle, the widow of the late Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame.