What Is the Meaning of Garth Brooks’ Song ‘The Dance’? Story Behind the Country Hit

In 1989, Garth Brooks released one of his most popular songs of all time — “The Dance.” In the years since the country ballad hit the airwaves, the Grammy winner explained the meaning behind the powerful lyrics. Scroll below to learn more about the country singer’s iconic hit song. 

Who Wrote Garth Brooks’ Song ‘The Dance’? 

“The Dance” was written by Tony Arata, a popular singer-songwriter responsible for penning a number of country classics. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee performed the song in front of Garth for the first time at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. The emotion conveyed through the lyrics absolutely blew him away. Garth knew he wanted it on his self-titled debut album and that his fans would definitely respond to its meaning. 

Garth Brooks’ Weight Loss Photos: Fitness, Health Quotes
Garth Brooks’ Weight Loss Photos: Fitness, Health Quotes

Tony actually began writing “The Dance” in the early ‘80s. He was inspired by the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married when finishing up the lyrics. 

“It just hit me so hard,” Tony recalled in a 2013 interview with The Tennessean about his connection to the Kathleen Turner-led film. “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.”

What Is the Meaning of Garth Brooks’ Song ‘The Dance’? 

Garth has explained a number of times over the years that “The Dance” actually has two meanings. Some fans interpret the lyrics to be about a relationship while others have related it to historical figures and events. 

“To a lot of people, I guess ‘The Dance’ is a love gone bad song. Which, you know, that it is,” Garth explained at the start of the music video for the song. “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. Kennedys or the Martin Luther Kings. John Waynes or the Keith Whitleys. And if they could come back, I think they would say to us what the lyrics of ‘The Dance’ say.”

The John Lloyd Miller-directed music video features clips of the above-mentioned American icons. “The Dance" earned Garth the Academy of Country Music Award for Video of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990. He also took home the Music Video of the Year honor at the CMA Awards as well as Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards.