Garth Brooks undoubtedly has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season — not the least of which is a new deluxe boxed set, Blame It All On My Roots, which hit stores this week . However, during an appearance on the "Ellen Degeneres Show" Friday, the country icon saved his most grateful words for his wife, fellow musician Trisha Yearwood.
"I've got to tell you, if you like her and don't know her, you'll love her," Brooks enthused about Yearwood. "If you love her and don't know her, you'll worship her. She's the real deal."
"I never knew it could be like this," he noted of his marriage. "I never knew that every day you could wake up and feel like this. I have God and I have Ms. Yearwood to thank for this."
Brooks told DeGeneres he was so smitten by Yearwood that he even recognized the spark at their first meeting in 1987 — when he was barely into his second year of marriage to first wife Sandy Mahl. "I felt that feeling like when you just meet your wife," he told the talk-show host. "But [I'd] been married for 13 months!"
Yearwood herself was married at the time, so the two developed a friendly relationship. Brooks went on to have three daughters with Mahl and was determined to be a good husband and father. "Being married, it's got to be right. This is who you went to college with, and you were married in front of God and your family and everything," he explained. "So you keep hacking, and you work and you work and you work. And then comes that time where you're looking at the rest of your life going, 'How do you want to live it?'"
The Brooks-Mahl marriage failed in 2000 and their divorce was finalized in 2001. Coincidentally, Yearwood was newly single at that time, too. The friends quickly discovered they had a deep bond. "We had a lot more in common than I ever dreamed we did," Brooks noted. "So we started seeing each other after the divorce...We'd known each other music-wise, but we got to see each other as people."
The pair married in 2005 and have successfully engineered dual parenting roles with Brooks's ex-wife Mahl. While Brooks has been in semi-retirement since 2001, the two lovebirds have never been entirely out of the spotlight. Yearwood most recently launched a cooking show, "Trisha's Southern Kitchen," on the Food Network, on which Brooks has guest-starred. "She's the bomb," he told DeGeneres "She does it all."
Brooks also discussed his famous decision to bow out of the spotlight and focus on parenting his kids; a choice he has vowed to stick to until his youngest child graduates high school next May. He called the ability to do so a gift from God: "I think if everybody was allowed that luxury, 99 percent of us parents would take it...they just grow up so fast."
The superstar also delighted the audience when he serenaded DeGeneres with a medley of his favorite cover songs, which he recorded for his new boxed set. The talk-show host was so moved by Brooks's rendition of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" that she couldn't resist joining in for a verse or two herself.