Some songs are so powerful that they take on a whole new meaning in times of tragedy. People turn to them for strength and hope in the face of adversity and loss. Their legacy evolves and grows over time. Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” is one of those songs.
The final tune on his debut album, “The Dance” became perhaps Brooks’ most iconic song. Tony Arata wrote it and Brooks released it as his last single from his debut album in 1990.
The literal interpretation of “The Dance” leads you to believe the song is about love. However, Brooks revealed that to him, the song has always been about the bigger picture. In fact, he introduced the music video with his take on the song.
“To a lot of people, I guess ‘The Dance’ is a love gone bad song,” says Brooks. “Which, you know, that it is. But to me it’s always been a song about life. Or maybe the loss of those people that have given the ultimate sacrifice for a dream that they believed in, like the John F. Kennedy’s or the Martin Luther King’s. John Wayne’s or the Keith Whitley’s. And if they could come back, I think they would say to us what the lyrics of The Dance’ say.”
The video then features images of people who died for their dream.
Along with the people Brooks mentions, the video also prominently features champion bull rider Lane Frost. In 1989, the 25-year-old Frost died in Cheyenne after being struck by a bull. A few months later, Brooks released “The Dance” to radio.
In 1990, the song’s video earned Garth Brooks the ACM Award for Video of the Year. Since then, “The Dance” has memorialized countless lives in the face of tragedy, including Dale Earnhardt in a moving ceremony.
It’s amazing what a powerful song can do to lift spirits in tough times. And there’s no doubt that “The Dance” will continue to profoundly affect people looking for a small glimmer of hope.