Two decades after the 1999 release of his most enigmatic, mysterious and elaborate project -- a greatest hits album from his alter-ego, fictional Australian rock star Chris Gaines -- Garth Brooks is opening up about the Gaines era, and explaining a bit about why he never intends to revisit the character.

The album was originally conceived to lay the groundwork for a movie called The Lamb, which would star Brooks as the leading character, Gaines. However, the movie never came to fruition, leaving only the album, an impressively realistic VH1 Behind the Music episode, and a whole lot of fandom for the fictional superstar -- some ironic, but some, especially as the years pass, sincere.

However, Brooks seems to predominantly remember the negative response to the Gaines experiment. "A lot of people misunderstood it, and my ribs are still sore from getting the s--t kicked out of me for it," the singer tells Yahoo Entertainment in a recent interview.

There's an even bigger reason why he would never want to step back into the role of the character, though. "It was a really tough time for me, because of the fact that I saw for the first time that people can be focused on something way past the music," he explains. "And that's never a good thing, when music takes a backseat."

Still, Brooks knows that not all of the fascination surrounding the Gaines era is negative. While Brooks' alter-ego certainly has his detractors, he also has a rabid cult following. "All of the sudden, you realize that the people who got it, got it," the singer continues. "And the people who never got it, never picked it up. So that makes me feel good, because I got to tell you, I'm surprised you brought this up, but everybody that ever does mention it to me says it's their favorite Garth Brooks album!

"I don't know how to take that!" he adds.

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