The songwriting passion is returning, says Garth Brooks, who's itching to "get the wheels rolling and get going."
"The way that writing happens is when music is all around you," said Brooks, during a weekend interview in Denver where he performed at the Denver Health Foundation gala.
"For the last 10 years, the music that's been all around me has been my girls and whatever they're listening to on the radio," he said. "So I've been kind of dormant."
However, since the "Vegas gig" began, Brooks said he's finding scraps of papers around the house with scribbled lines of lyrical inspiration.
"So I'm hoping this is what it's supposed to be: knock the rust off, get the wheels rolling and get going," he said.
His Denver visit included his participation in the opening of an interactive play area for ailing children at Denver Health Medical Center.
It was the seventh Child Life Zone sponsored by Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation and the Troy Aikman Foundation.
Later in the evening, Brooks performed much of his revamped Las Vegas show. He started headlining at Steve Wynn's Encore Theater in December.
Brooks said he met with Wynn last month to discuss how the show is evolving. Wynn told him, "it's really grown a lot."
What Wynn and recent crowds have seen is a more cohesive show with more snippets of artists who influenced Brooks' career. The dialogue is tighter, his one-liners funnier.
"There's a lot of cool things we're finding out," Brooks said.
Given his penchant for referencing cities in a lot of his songs, I asked if Las Vegas might be surfacing in future lyrics.
"That's a good idea because Vegas seems to be a destination so even the people you play for aren't from Vegas," he said.
During the day he was introduced at the Encore news conference, Brooks recalled that "someone kept asking (Wynn), 'I'm surprised you're hiring a country western singer here.' He said it two or three times, 'country western.' The thing was, are you kidding me? I mean, have you never been to the Thomas & Mack? I mean Vegas is one of the greatest supporters of our tour, whether it was Wynn or not. Thomas & Mack, I'll play there every day.
"So I have a love for that city (that came) before Wynn. The only place we ever played in a casino was the Desert Inn and the Wynn is setting right on top of the Desert Inn.
"It's almost like the circle completes itself," Brooks continued. "I got a lot of good memories about that (city), but you never want to put a city in a song because you want to gain points.
"You put it in because something happened out there and you're writing about it. If it does, it will be from the heart, I guarantee that."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
More on that encounter between U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican front-runner Sue Lowden at the National Rifle Association dinner Saturday at Sam's Town. I'm told Lowden asked how Reid's wife, Landra, was doing after her recent auto accident. Lowden told Reid that Landra had been in her prayers. Reid thanked Lowden for the comments and inquired about her husband, Paul, whom Reid had approved for Lowden's first gaming license back in the 1970s.
Sylvester Stallone and Paula Abdul, with Planet Hollywood creator Robert Earl and a group of Harrah's clients Saturday at Strip House (Planet Hollywood Resort). ... At Vanity (Hard Rock Hotel) on Saturday: Paris and Nicky Hilton, Adrian Grenier and Brandon Davis.
THE PUNCH LINE
"I wore capes before Batman made it hip." -- From David Letterman's Top 10 Pet Peeves of the Ghost of Elvis