The Story Behind The Song: “The Dance”

Tony went away from the theater thinking about that scene for a long time. He thought about the times in life when we want to avoid the pain, but if we do, many times we will have to miss the joy in life also. The lyrics started coming and “The Dance” was born soon afterward. A few weeks after Arata composed it, he was singing at an “open microphone” event at a little club called “Douglas Corner” on Eighth Avenue in Nashville.

Sitting at the bar that night was this stocky guy wearing a cowboy hat. Tony had observed a lot of fellows who look like fake cowboys with their hats on, but this guy didn’t. He looked like the real deal. Tony struck up a conversation with him and found out that he too had his sights on a country music career. His name was Garth Brooks.

Later, the two men found themselves performing on the same bill at the Bluebird Café. It was a Sunday night, and they were scheduled to do the early show. Nobody had arrived yet and Arata started singing “The Dance.” Garth listened intently and after it was finished, he walked over to Tony and said, “Man, if I ever get a record deal, I want to record that song!” Tony replied, “Okay, sure,” thinking the chances for that ever happening were slim. At the time, Brooks was selling boots for a living and Arata was lifting fifty-pound boxes to put groceries on the table.

Amazingly though, about a year later, Garth called Tony with the news that he had just signed with Capitol Records and asked again about “The Dance.” It was still available and he was excited about recording the song for his debut album, appropriately titled “Garth Brooks.”

A couple of months passed while Brooks completed the album and when it was finished, Garth telephoned Tony again, inviting him down to his manager’s office to hear it. Arata didn’t recognize “The Dance” at first because of the piano intro, but once he listened to it, he agreed that Brooks did a magnificent job of singing, and Allen Reynolds’ production was superb.

In a span of ten months, Capitol issued three singles from the “Garth Brooks” package to launch his career, and each one made the Top Ten. The second Brooks single, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” even reached the #1 spot on Billboard’s country chart. Generally, a country album produces two or three singles, and by the time this collection’s third single, “Not Counting You,” was issued, work had already begun on Garth’s second album “No Fences,” (which in the long run proved to be one of the biggest-selling albums in music history).

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