Oklahoma native and country music star Garth Brooks has truly charted some of the most iconic songs in the industry. Well, besides his best-known hit, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” Brooks still has some more that define his spectacular career that blossomed in the 1990’s. “The Dance,” which is one of his debut singles, is credited by many as his signature song together with “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” However, unlike the latter, Brooks did not write nor even co-write “The Dance.” It was actually his fellow songwriter Anthony Michael Arata or more popularly known as Tony Arata who crafted such wonderful hit.
The Movie, The Song
“The Dance” is definitely one of the most popular hits of Garth Brooks. But aside from him not personally writing it, did you know that the song was inspired by a movie?
Yes, as many country music fans don’t know, this iconic song was actually written by Tony Arata because of a film that inspired him. In 2013, in an interview with Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, Arata revealed the story, his inspiration, and how it came about writing the said song.
Arata admitted that before writing the song, he knew that he was onto something special. However, he had difficulty at first deciding the final theme of the song he wanted to create. One time, he saw the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married and that was the time he realized what he wanted to talk and write about.
The movie was all about a woman who goes back in time to her high school days. She then decides to make everything right, change her decisions, and path in life. However, in the end, she realized that what she already had is just exactly what she needed and should have.
“It just hit me so hard. It hit me that you don’t get to pick and choose your memories in life. You have to go with things as they play out. You don’t get to alter them.”
It was then reflected in the song’s classic lyrics which goes:
“Our lives are better left to chance / I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”
How the Song Got to Garth Brooks
Initially, no artist got interested in the concept of the song. As Arata’s publisher pitched the song all over Nashville, he found no one to cut it because of its uncommon theme. Eventually, it made its way to Brooks who had no recording label that time. After hearing Arata perform “The Dance,” he got interested and immediately requested if he could cut and record the song. That was then the start of the fame of both Brooks and the song.
Aside from giving Brooks a number-one hit, “The Dance” amassed several awards adding to his accolades. As a matter of fact, in 1994, Brooks told Playboy:
“‘The Dance’ will be the greatest success as a song we will ever do. I’ll go to my grave with ‘The Dance.’ It’ll probably always be my favorite song.”
About the Song
A total hit in the 1990’s, “The Dance” is a three-minute country song popularly recorded by American country music star Garth Brooks. It is the tenth and last single from his self-titled debut album released on April 30, 1990. American singer-songwriter Tony Arata penned this chart-topping song with record producer Allen Reynolds producing it for Capitol Nashville Records. Aside from the famous “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” the song is considered by many as one of Brooks’ signature songs.
Furthermore, “The Dance” became a massive hit in the early-90’s. To note, it clinched no. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and also no. 1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks. In addition, the song was also popular in other countries, especially in Europe. Whereas, it managed to penetrate music charts in Ireland, Scotland, and the United Kingdom. In fact, it also charted at no. 89 on the Eurochart Hot 100.
Moreover, by the end of 1990, “The Dance” still proved its dominance as it still entered the year-end charts. It placed no. 13 and no. 8 on the Billboard U.S. Country Songs, and RPM Canada Country Tracks, respectively.
WATCH: Garth Brooks performs his 1990 hit “The Dance” live.
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Garth Brooks, The Dance, Tony Arata