Garth Brooks brought New York's Times Square to a standstill last night (15NOV05) when he staged a live comeback outside the Country Music Association Awards (CMA) Awards.

The retired country star performed new single GOOD RIDE COWBOY outside Madison Square Garden to thousands of fans who flocked to see their hero perform live in the city - the setting of the 39th annual CMAs.

And Brooks' comeback was such a big deal, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg took to the stage to introduce him.

But it was one of many magical performances as the country music world took over the Big Apple with an eclectic mix of stars.

Topping the list of highlights were SIR Elton John and Dolly Parton, who duetted on Elton's TURN THE LIGHTS OUT WHEN YOU LEAVE and John Lennon's IMAGINE, and Gretchen Wilson, who performed a tribute to country's first couple Johnny Cash and JUNE CARTER CASH.

Meanwhile, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson and Norah Jones collaborated on Nelson's CRAZY and Simon's STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS and Bon Jovi performed with country darlings Sugarland.

There were also stellar performances from country stars Kenny Chesney, who opened the show, multi-award winner LEE ANN RIMES, BIG + RICH, GEORGE STRAIT, Keith Urban, country couple Faith Hill and Tim Mcgraw, and Brad Paisley, among others.

Among the night's embarrassments was a performance by Alison Krauss + UNION STATION, which featured the country singer in a see-through gown.