Mark Humphrey, AP
"I remember hearing it at the Bluebird Café and falling in love with it that day," Garth tells The Boot, referencing the Nashville nightclub famous for its songwriter's nights. "I also remember hearing it on a much bigger scale than a song about love gone bad. "Allen Reynolds [who produced the song for Garth's debut album] took it in and did his own thing with to it. But you also have to give credit to Bobby Wood, who did that whole piano intro right out of his heart. That's part of songwriting as well."
"I am so glad no one else cut the song before Garth could do so," Tony Arata tells The Boot of the song he wrote soon after he had moved to Nashville in 1986. "I believe that sometimes certain people are supposed to record certain songs, and I believe that it was meant for Garth to record 'The Dance'."
"The Dance" would go on to win the Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year trophy and also received nominations from the Country Music Association and the Grammys.
Garth's wife, singer Trisha Yearwood, agrees with her husband's assessment, telling The Boot, "I always joke about 'Strawberry Wine,' which I had on hold and let go. It went on to sell four million singles. The truth is, that song was meant for Deana Carter. When I cut 'She's in Love with the Boy,' it had been around two or three years before I recorded it. I think songs end up where they are supposed to be."
Both artists, who were on hand for the induction of Tony Arata, Mary Chapin Carpenter and others into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame recently, acknowledge the importance of a song in the career of an artist. While Garth is a songwriter, Trisha doesn't consider herself one just yet.
"Garth says everyone is a songwriter," she notes. "I disagree, respectfully. I'm an interpreter. If I ever write anything as great as 'Walk Away Joe' I'll record it. I have great respect for a great song. My career is defined by story songs like 'She's in Love With the Boy' and 'Walk Away Joe.' It really is about the song."
"The Dance" is featured on Garth's self-titled 1989 debut, which has, to date, sold more than 10 million copies. Of Tony's success with the tune, Garth says, "I can see where Tony is thankful but he's not half as thankful as I am. That song was huge for me."