Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Deana Carter, “We Danced Anyway”

“We Danced Anyway

Deana Carter

Written by Matraca Berg and Randy Scruggs

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

March 15 – March 22, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 7, 1997

Deana Carter scores again with a Matraca Berg cut.

The Road to No. 1

After reaching No. 1 with her debut US single, “Strawberry Wine,” Deana Carter repeated the success with another song co-written by Matraca Berg.

The No.1

“We Danced Anyway” had two things in common with “Strawberry Wine.”  First, as noted above, it was co-written by Matraca Berg.  Second, it was like nothing else on the radio at the time.

The entire plotline of “We Danced Anyway” is unique and fresh, catching a couple dancing to music in another language “in a happy little foreign town where the stars hung upside down,” enjoying every minute even though they “never understood a word.”

The chorus then plays off on this: “We just sang, oh, la la la la la la la la, and we danced anyway.” The memory is then used as a way to rekindle the old flame, reminding them both of the freedom and limitless possibilities that they felt at that moment long ago.

The production is bright and airy, with no unnecessary flourishes getting in the way of the lyric and Carter’s typically understated delivery of it.  The hits from her debut album felt like they were cutting a new path for country music to travel down.  It took a detour and went in a very different direction, but much like the memory in this song, one listen of “We Danced Anyway” is enough to remember that moment of freedom and hope for the future.

The Road From No. 1

“Count Me In” was another excellent single from Did I Shave My Legs For This, and it went top five.  Carter had her final No. 1 hit to date with the album’s fourth hit, and we’ll cover it before the end of 1997.

“We Danced Anyway” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: John Berry, “She’s Taken a Shine”

 

6 Comments

  1. I adore “Strawberry Wine” and recognize why it’s typically held up as her best single. However this is my favourite! As you said the bright and airy production is perfection to capture the joyous feeling of the lyric. And as someone who loves to travel and explore the story of being swept away together with someone in a “happy little foreign town” just connects to me in a way that “Strawberry Wine” just couldn’t.

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  2. A beautifully written review! Again, I just LOVE this song so much! This is another one of my favorite feel good songs from 1997 that still gives me so much joy and happiness whenever I hear it. And like the review states, not only does this song bring back great memories from my personal life, but it also reminds me of the new level of energy, excitement, and creativity that country music seemed to be having back then with songs like this. The possibilities did seem endless, indeed.

    Like Kanenrake, I do adore “Strawberry Wine,” but I personally like this one even more. I just love how it celebrates the pure joy that music can bring out in us during certain moments, especially if you’re with a romantic partner, family members, friends, etc. and how the music often makes those moments with those people even more special and memorable. I also love how the second verse suggests that the feeling of of being happy and carefree can be brought back by those memories, whether if it’s just for a little while or more temporarily. One of my favorite lines of that second verse is: “They say you can’t go back, but baby, I don’t believe that.” I don’t believe that either, because I go back all the time with the special memories I have with these 90’s country songs, and for at least a little while, I forget my current troubles and feel just as happy and carefree as I did when I was younger in the 90’s. This song, in particular, has the power to take me back to the late 90’s every single time. :)

    I also love how different this song sounded from everything else in early ’97, and it still sounds just as refreshingly unique today. It does NOT sound like 25 year old record at all! The song’s production and arrangement, along with Deana’s performance transport you to that “happy little foreign town,” or at least, it makes you wish you were right there with them. Just the guitars in the intro make me picture that crowded street in the summertime with “music everywhere.” I’ve especially always loved how happy and cheerful she sounded during the chorus, especially the “La, la, la, la, la” parts. You can also hear her smiling throughout the entire record. She’s especially beaming with excitement in the first verse as she recalls that special time they were together and says “I remember we were laughing. We were so in love…” I also love her warm, laid back delivery in the second verse of wanting to get that feeling back as she assures her partner, “We’ll come back around.” The instrumentation is also brilliant throughout. I especially love the beautiful Spanish flavored guitar during the break, which once again, transports you back to the foreign town and its crowded streets full of happy people. And what Matraca Berg written hit is complete without more excellent steel playing from Dan Dugmore?

    And also like “Strawberry Wine,” the music video also still looks very modern today. I just love how Deana seems to be having so much fun throughout and it features that bubbly side of her that I’ve always liked, which was perfect for this song. And yes, it’s another video that takes me back to watching GAC a lot in 1997. :)

    Even though the song is recalling a summer night full of laughing and dancing, one of my first memories of hearing this song was on a cold and grey Saturday afternoon with light snow falling. My dad had stopped at the credit union before we went to the mall, and I was in the car enjoying this song. That was actually the first time I really took notice of Deana Carter. I just loved her joyful and youthful sounding vocals and the overall style of the song, which as mentioned above, really stood out at the time. “We Danced Anyway” quickly became another one of my favorite songs during that time, and I even recorded it on to one of the tapes that I listened to regularly on my Walkman. Both Deana Carter and Mindy McCready were two of my most favorite new female artists at the time because of the youthful energy and exciting feel that they brought with their music (Mindy’s “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What A Girl’s Gotta Do)” was another one of my favorites at the time).

    Luckily, “We Danced Anyway” continued to get recurrent airplay for us going into the early 00’s, and it remained such a pleasure to hear every time.

    “Count Me In” is also another one of my favorites! I actually first heard that one while my parents and I were in Florida during the Spring of ’97. :) It’s also another one of the first videos of hers I saw on GAC that year.

    • Oops, in my second paragraph, it should read “more permanently” instead of “temporarily.”

      I’ve actually been listening to this song a lot lately, and it really still feels just as good today as it did back then. This song is like the sound of great, fun times spent with loved ones and the memories of those times. Also, it HAS to be one of the 90’s country songs that has aged the best!

  3. Deana Carter had an appeal and reach similar to that of Mary Chapin Carpenter. I will always remember my high school girlfriend going absolutely crazy for the free-spirited energy of this song. Berg’s lyrics detail the carefree joy of happier past and the call to rediscover the magic of a special moment. Carter’s vocals perfectly bring hope,wisdom, and confidence to the lyrics.

    Just as Nashville botched Rick Trevino’s talents, they would shockingly be unable to successfully understand Carter’s talents for long.

    • I almost have to believe that Nashville was starting not to care about women like Deana, who, like almost every other female artist of the 1990’s, didn’t fit into a prescribed box drawn up in a corporate board room. It really seemed like a case of the powers-that-be starting to reject artists who weren’t a Sure Thing. But as the legendary film director Stanley Kubrick was known to say, “Nothing is as dangerous as a Sure Thing”.

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