Clarkson's performance was interspersed with shots of Brooks and his wife Trisha Yearwood's instant reactions. As we've come to expect from Brooks, he changed on a dime from fighting back tears to cheering as if Oklahoma State scored a game-winning touchdown.
"So I'm going through a divorce and there's been like a lot of books and people always give you stuff to help, especially when you have kids and stuff," Clarkson said on her Emmy-winning talk show (as quoted by People). "And there's so much shame and guilt, and everybody sends you stuff, and I was just kind of working through it.
"I couldn't quite nail down the feeling," she continued. "Like you don't want to crap on it, like, you don't want to say that [relationship] doesn't count or matter, but you don't know what to put in it because it didn't work out like you wanted. So, anyway, I kid you not, I was listening to my playlist and 'The Dance' came on. And I was like, 'No, that's the thing. That's it.'"
Circumstances caused the country music classic, written by Tony Arata and made immortal in 1990 by Brooks, to connect differently for Clarkson.
"I sang that song from childhood and it never hit me. [When] it hit me I was literally bawling. I was like, 'It's not so bad. It was worth it.' Because it is true," she added. "I think a lot of people who go through such a devastating [experience], there's a lot of grief with it, a lot of loss, and a lot of change, especially with kids."
"So, I literally, not like your song, like a rip-off, but I literally wrote this whole thing therapeutically for me, and it's actually on my next album," she said. "The whole come-around, the little tag part is like, 'Even though my heart is broken / It was worth the dance anyway.'"