Thirty-two years ago today, country music megastar Garth Brooks dropped his debut album.
For many artists, it takes a few albums before they really hit it big. But not Garth Brooks. Brooks released his self-titled debut album in 1989 and the album soared to the number 13 spot on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Top Country Albums chart. Can you guess which record kept the album from topping the chart? If you guessed Garth Brooks’ second album, No Fences, you’re right! Additionally, Brooks snagged his first number one hit song “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” He also won an Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year and Video of the Year for “The Dance” in 1990. And “If Tomorrow Never Comes” was named Favorite Country Single at the 1991 American Music Awards.
When he first released the album, producers quietly shipped less than 20,000 records to start. Today, the Garth Brooks album is RIAA-certified for sales of over 10 million units. In conclusion, Garth Brooks kicked off his career with a lot of success. Even more impressively, he’s maintained that level of stardom for decades.
During a video on his website, Garth Brooks talked about his two hit songs from the album.
“There were tremendous ballad songs ‘The Dance,’ ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ literally changed the way people looked at their own lives,” said Brooks.
Country music star and Brooks’ wife, Trisha Yearwood, also shared her thoughts on the success of the album.
“There’s something special about this song,” said Yearwood about “The Dance.” “I don’t even think he knew how big of a record this would be. And the rest is history.”
What’s the Story Behind Garth Brooks’ Song ‘The Dance’?
Many fans consider “The Dance” to be a tragic love song. And, during an interview in 2016, Garth Brooks agreed that the song can definitely be interpreted that way. But he added that there’s even more meaning behind the song.
“To a lot of people, I guess ‘The Dance’ is a love gone bad song. Which, you know, that it is,” said Brooks. “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.”
Songwriter Tony Arata wrote “The Dance.” During an interview in 2020, Arata said that long before Garth Brooks landed a record deal, he heard Arata play the song. Brooks promised Arata that if he ever got a record deal, he’d record the song. Three years later, Brooks hit it big with his debut album and “The Dance.”
“We were both doing whatever we could to stay in Nashville, trying to get our songs heard by anybody. The only folks listening, however, were other songwriters as no one else was usually at our shows,” said Arata. “I had written the song just before I moved here. Garth loved it the first time he heard it, and he said he wanted to record if he ever got a deal. At the time, neither of us had anything going on.”