Garth Brooks Says He'll Put Music Career On Hold

But country superstar has penned new song for sci-fi movie, will perform with George Michael.

NEW YORK — Country superstar Garth Brooks — citing industry instability caused by label mergers, including that of his own, Capitol Nashville — said that his music career is on hold.

The singer, who has strongly hinted several times that he may announce his retirement later this year, added, "It's a good time to work on my relationship with my wife."

The announcement came on Monday during a Shea Stadium press conference marking the end of Brooks' spring-training stint playing baseball with the New York Mets.

Brooks, 38, has made no secret of his disappointment over the lukewarm critical and commercial reception that greeted his last album, 1999's In The Life Of Chris Gaines — a project featuring Brooks' rock-singer alter ego Chris Gaines that featured the song "Lost in You" (RealAudio excerpt). A planned movie about Gaines' life, "The Lamb," is in limbo, according to the singer. He also said he had recently written his first new song in five years. The as-yet-unnamed song will be featured in the upcoming New Line Cinema sci-fi movie "Frequency," starring Dennis Quaid.

His only scheduled musical event this year is an appearance with George Michael on April 29 at the Equality Rules Human Rights Concert. "We're an unlikely pair," Brooks said of Michael. "But it shows that we are all human and children and should treat each other that way."

Regarding conjecture about Whitney Houston's no-show at the Oscars, where she was scheduled to perform with him, Brooks said that she had been ill and expressed hope that she was feeling better. "She's one of the top five females in the history of music," he said, adding that when they worked together in the early '90s, she treated him "like a king."

Asked about his SoundScan sales records being broken by pop sensations 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, Brooks expressed pride in both groups, saying that their success was "great for retail."

On the subject of his much-publicized Chris Gaines movie, Brooks said that "it's still waiting for a script." He declined any comment about recent rumors that he would be involved this year in a TV sitcom and a TV dramatic series. "I've learned in Hollywood that nothing is for certain until it's been on the air for three weeks," he explained.

He said that he had co-written the song for "Frequency" with Jenny Yates because of his interest in the movie itself. "It's the first thing I've written in five years," he said. "What perked my interest was the quality of the movie. It's one of the greatest movies I've even seen in my life. The fact that the filmmakers weren't concerned with the soundtrack or single, but in making a statement, impressed me."

Brooks said he's planning to play preseason baseball next year to raise money for his children's charity, Touch 'Em All. His previous spring-training experience last year with the San Diego Padres raised $2.5 million for the charity, and this year's campaign is expected to double that figure.