After she provided backing vocals on his debut, third, fourth, and fifth albums, he returned the favor by co-writing a track on her debut and providing backing vocals on her second, 1992’s Hearts in Armor. And in 1997, they finally came together for a proper duet on “In Another’s Eyes,” off of (Songbook) A Collection of Hits, her first greatest hits album. A second duet, ‘Where Your Road Leads,” followed a year later.
By the end of 2000, Brooks not only announced his retirement from recording and performing—so he could spend more time with his and Mahl’s three daughters, Taylor Mayne Pearl, August Anna, and Allie Colleen—but also his separation from Mahl. The split didn’t come as much of a surprise, with Brooks admitting on Good Morning America that January that the relationship was “not in a good place.”
“The big word in a relationship for me is respect, and do we have that for each other? If you don’t, then you must try and find it,” he said. “If you can’t find it, then is your position better as friends, finding that someone for Sandy that makes her feel like she really likes herself, and for me to find somebody that makes me feel like I really like myself.”