Garth Brooks took the stage at the 2017 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 8), performing his latest single, "Ask Me How I Know."

The country legend was clad all in black like a latter-day Johnny Cash as he sang the song, which is the second single from his most recent album, Gunslinger. He imbued the heartbreak ballad with the kind of passion that is his live trademark, snarling, pleading and leaning into a crowd-pleasing performance that had the audience at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena rapt.

Viewers at home, however, could see that Brooks was clearly lip-syncing, a fact that he readily admitted after the show. He attributed the decision to the fact that he's in the middle of playing 12 shows in 10 days, and on top of that, he's been sick. His admission stirred controversy online.

Singer-songwriter Mitch Rossell wrote "Ask Me How I Know," and Brooks was enthusiastic when he spoke to Taste of Country upon the single release.

“‘Ask Me How I Know’ is I think gonna be — ‘More Than a Memory’ for Lee Brice? I’m hoping that’s gonna be it for him because he’s a sweet guy and we need to hear his music," the country megastar told us.

Brooks is nearing the end of his massive three-year comeback tour, which has consistently placed at the top of country tours for the last several years. He wraps the North American leg with a gig in Nashville on Dec. 16, and he plans to take the show overseas, though no dates have yet been announced.

Brooks also won Entertainer of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards.

See Pics from the 2017 CMA Awards Red Carpet

The Story of Garth Brooks' "Ask Me How I Know"