Inquiring Minds

Tony Arata: The Dirt On "The Dance" And Four Other Hits

This weekend, Conroe's Crighton Theater hosts another big-time writers in the round song-swap with Lee Roy Parnell, Tony Arata and J.D. Souther. Looking at their songwriting credits, which include "Love Without Mercy," "We All Get Lucky Sometimes," "On the Road," "Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town," "Heartache Tonight," "Victim of Love," "Here I Am," "Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open," "I Used to Worry," and "The Dance," is like looking at a river of money.

Arata doesn't have quite the high profile of Souther and Parnell as a performer, but he has had a tremendous amount of success as a songwriter. A printout of covers of his works covers almost five pages. Rocks Off caught up with Arata in his hometown of Savannah, Ga., Wednesday and asked him to give us his thoughts on songwriting and on five of his biggest successes.

Songwriting: "If you sit down to write with the idea that you are going to produce something that will appeal to a wide cross-section of people, you'll probably fail every time. Or I think I would. What works for me is to just try to write the best, most honest thing I can every day and hope that I get lucky now and then."

5. "Satisfied Mind" (Randy Travis, Hal Ketchum): "The weird thing about 'Satisfied Mind' is that it's never been a single, yet it is probably one of the most requested songs at my shows. I'm amazed at how many people will request this one. Fortunately when Randy and Hal cut it on their albums, people were still listening to entire albums."

4. "Here I Am" (Patty Loveless): "Patty is such a sweet Kentucky gal and is an amazing talent. Such a real deal. I can't say enough about her and what her cutting this song did for me when she included it on When Fallen Angels Fly. It went on to be the Country Music Association album of the year in 1994."

3. "Dreaming with My Eyes Open" (Clay Walker): "Clay was brand-new when he cut this. It was actually done as part of movie soundtrack for The Thing Called Love [1993]. The song did better than the movie. I always jokingly tell people I gave Sandra Bullock her start. The funny thing is there was only about 16 seconds of the song in the movie, but it took off from there."