In the spring of 2000, I was attending the great annual Key West Songwriters Festival, doing a little keg-work (freudian slip – I mean “leg-work”) with my old friend (and original KWSF founder), Drew Reid.

The KWSF is one of the best of its kind anywhere and, since it’s held in the beautiful Old City of Key West (FL), you just oughta make plans to make the festival your next vacation. A can’t miss great time!

But anyway, at this particular KWSF, I saw a very cute young woman by the name of Tia Sillers sing this song announcing, “Oh by the way, this is the first single from Lee Ann Womack’s new album.”

No one there, probably, had ever heard the song. I hadn’t. And while it was obviously a really great song, honestly, with a dozen or so major hit songwriters on the bill, and old buddies all around, and gorgeous tropical weather…and a keg or two (ahem), the song didn’t have the impact that it should have based on what was to follow.

Driving out of Key West after the multi-day event, I heard Lee Ann’s “I Hope You Dance” on the radio for the first time. It gave me chills, even in the mid-day heat, especially having just met Tia Sillers and heard her perform the song. I knew it was a smash…who didn’t?

Few songs over the last thirty years or more of popular music have made the indelible mark on society that has been left by “I Hope You Dance.” Heck, Oprah was reading the lyrics on her show! (And if Oprah thinks it’s good…ooh doggy!)

IT IS A GREAT GREAT SONG. It speaks to the depths of the human soul. It is pop music as art and poetry at its finest.

The public must agree: “I Hope You Dance” won the 2001 Grammy, CMA, ACM, NSAI, ASCAP and BMI song of the year awards. It reached #14 on the US Hot 100 Billboard Chart and #1 on the Country and AC Charts.

It was a career-making song for Lee Ann, as well as its writers.

(Gee whiz, Lee Ann Womack performed the song at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert — 2000 — honoring the winners!)

Tia Sillers wrote “I Hope You Dance” with Nashville stalwart Mark D. Sanders. Mark D. co-wrote “Blue Clear Sky,” a #1 for George Strait (with Bob Dipiero and John Jarrard) and has had dozens and dozens of cuts by major artists. He teamed up again with Tia to write Alan Jackson’s hit “That’d Be Alright.”

I think it was the very next year that I crossed paths with Tia again. I should mention here that Tia is married to the phenomenal singer/songwriter/guitartist Mark Selby. Often people confuse the “Mark” co-writer of “Dance,” Mark D. Sanders, with Tia’s husband, Mark O. Selby. Not the same guy at all but Mark Selby is a major hit songwriter in his own right. THIS Mark and Tia co-wrote the Dixie Chicks’ break-out hit, “There’s Your Trouble” (from Wide Open Spaces) as well as the biggest song ever in the career of blues-rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “Blue On Black.” An eclectic couple, eh?

By the way, Mark Selby’s More Storms Comin’, in this listener’s opinion, is one of the greatest blues-rock albums in recent memory. It kicks you in the you know what. More Storms Comin’ was Mark’s debut for Vanguard Records.

Anyway, back to the story. The next time I hooked up with Mark and Tia, at another songwriter festival in Florida (again produced by Drew Reid), Mark and Tia, myself, hit-songwriter Kostas, and a singer-songwriter from Durango, Lisa Blue, got stranded on a fishing boat all night long in the freezing cold (it was in January and unusually cold for those parts) when the boat ran aground in shallow water. We were there until daybreak and the incident is a great (and funny — but not at the time) memory for all of us… “”Living might mean taking chances, But they’re worth taking…”

Here are the beautiful and inspiring words to “I Hope You Dance.” (Words and Music by Tia Sillers and Mark D. Sanders)

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger

May you never take one singe breathe for granted

And God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith the fighting chance

And if you get the chance to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance

And never settle for the path of least resistance

Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking

Loving might be a mistake but it’s worth making

Don’t let some helping heart leave you bitter

When you come close to selling out reconsider

Give the heavens above more than just a pasing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

promise me that you’ll give faith the fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

Dance, I hope you dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

Notably (and unfortunately) “lyric sites,” of which there are many, usually don’t post who actually wrote the song. For instance, you will see this song all over the web attributed to Lee Ann Womack, who of course made the song a hit (along with her producer Mark Wright!), but she didn’t write it. As for this particular song, there is often another frequent and unfortunate (for the reader) omission: The lyrics sung in the background. These words add depth and meaning to the song:

Time is a wheel in constant motion

always rolling us along

Who wants to look back on their years and wonder,

where those years have gone?

I hope YOU dance. –JH



Source by DA Jack Hayford

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