Some country music 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. Nashville has put out countless songs that are full of emotion but the Garth Brooks song, "The Dance," is a standout.
The final tune on his debut album, "The Dance" became perhaps Brooks' most iconic and definitely a fan favorite song. Songwriter Tony Arata wrote it and Brooks released it as his last single from his self-titled debut album in 1990. It's still one of his greatest successes and considered one of Brooks' signature songs. The song was inspired by the Kathleen Turner film Peggy Sue Got Married.
The literal interpretation of "The Dance" leads you to believe the song is about love. However, the "If Tomorrow Never Comes" singer 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 country 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. The video 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 the radio and it hit the top of the billboards. You also see archived video of Martin Luther King Jr., The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger before it's launch, and more.
In 1990, the song's video earned Garth Brooks the Academy of Country Music Award for Video of the Year as well as Song 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 an instant during tough times. And there's no doubt that Garth Brooks' "The Dance" will continue to profoundly affect people looking for a small glimmer of hope.
This post was originally published on July 22, 2016.