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When The "experts" Get It Wrong - Tony Arata Talks About "the Dance"


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A story about trusting your instincts, from a very dear friend with wonderful instincts...



TH:  How long had you been in town before you wrote “The Danceâ€?
TA:  Oddly enough, it was probably one of the very first things I wrote.  Late ’86, early ’87.  I’ll never forget, I had written the song and did it one night  - we had actually worked our way up to doing the early show at The Bluebird - and it was me and Garth and Liz Hengber and Mark Irwin and that was about it.  That was not only the people performing, that was the crowd.  I sang “The Dance†and he came up to me afterwards and said to me, “Pal, if I ever get a record deal I’m going to do that song.† And of course I appreciated it, and I thanked him for the vote of confidence.  But he was selling boots at Boot Country and I was loading trucks at UPS…so I knew we had the music industry right where we wanted ‘em.  It was just a matter of time. (laughs) Sure enough, about two years later, I had finally worked my way into getting a job in my field, I was writing for a magazine, and I got a call, Garth called me and said, “I just got signed to Capitol Records.  Is that song still available?† So, true to his word, he called for it and made a wonderful record out of it.  But you know, the strange part is, anything that happened with that was purely happenstance.  I mean it wasn’t anything that was some grand design or great plan that you could lay your finger on, that I knew this was exactly how it was going to work.  It just happened to be with exactly the right guy and exactly the right bunch of players, and exactly the right producer, which was Allen Reynolds, who was also a songwriter.  It was just…I was very lucky.
TH:  Was that still one of those songs that - when you wrote it - did you think, well, that’s pretty good?  Or did you really have confidence that it could be a pretty successful song?
TA:  Well, the odd part about it is I’ve sung the song every night since I’ve written it, wherever I’ve played…
TH:  So you’ve almost got it memorized.
TA: (laughs) I’ve almost got the words memorized.  The strange part is that it had been turned down in that interim, between when he heard it at the Bluebird and when he called a couple of years later, and had been signed to Capitol.  So in those years the song was continually being pitched and continually being passed on by the biggest and the best in town.  But I believed in the song, I thought there was something there, and the reaction it got from the lay-folk…you know…I knew there was something there.  Oddly enough, I was told on more than one occasion that nobody was going to record it because it didn’t have a bridge.  It’s just verse-chorus, verse-chorus and you’re done.  So I tried to write a bridge, and it seemed so foreign to the song, having sung it for so many nights, in its format…I finally just had to say that I don’t think it’s supposed to have one.
TH:  Did you ever try doing a bridge with a banjo in it? (laughs)
TA:  (laughs)  I tell you what, at that time of my life I would’ve tried anything - a bassoon, whatever.
TH:  A little ukulele? 
TA:  (laughs) Whatever you got.
TH:  Of course they’re all little.  Ukuleles.
TA:  (laughs)  But it was just one of those things, I finally had to make a decision that I thought I was done with the song and that’s what it was gonna be.  Oddly enough, in the years that passed, Garth came up to me and said “You know what I always liked about that song is that there’s no bridge.† And so every once in awhile, you know, idiots like me…every once in awhile you finally come to the right decision and the right conclusion and stick by your guns and go with the song as is. 


____________________
Ty Hager
author, "Nashville Songsmiths - In-Depth Interviews with #1 Country Songwiters"

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DUGKMIG

Audio clips from the interviews here:

 

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Always loved that song (and most Garth Brooks songs).  Again, nice to hear the back story.

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