VERSIONS: “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance?”


Rusty Wier: Don't it Make You Wanna Dance

Sometimes, when none of the news is good, you need a song that reminds you of the simple pleasures in life. A song to play when you’re heading out, maybe for some live music or the prospect of a good time with some good friends, with a simple chorus.

Now, don’t it make you wanna dance?/Don’t it make you wanna smile?/When you’re down, down, down in the country/Pick and sing a while

‘Don’t it Make You Wanna Dance’ is often credited to Jerry Jeff Walker who recorded it in 1977, but it was written by Texan Rusty Wier and first released by him in 1975. Wier was a central figure in Austin’s ‘Cosmic Cowboy’ movement and the Outlaw era of the 1970s. He was larger than life and a great entertainer, seldom seen without his trademark black riverboat gambler’s hat. Wier knew this song’s worth and it became his signature tune.


Wier was definitely dancing all the way to the State Bank of Texas when artist Bonnie Raitt recorded the song for the soundtrack to the film ‘Urban Cowboy’ (1980). The film was an American romantic Western directed by James Bridges. It has not aged well but does remind you how well John Travolta could dance. The film’s success was credited for spurring a mainstream revival of country music. Don’t know if that was such a good thing. But this song eventually sold more than two million copies and went double platinum.

Todd Snider is not known for his dancing but he’s a magnificent storyteller. Snider has included this song in his repertoire for a long time; it’s on his live album from 2011. Snider is a true troubadour and he has the knack of knowing which great songs to cover. In his time as a Hard Working American they did a magnificent cover of ‘Stomp and Holler’ by Hayes Carll. Not the greatest quality, but here he is in Alaska singing to a rammed dancefloor. And one of his few song clips that isn’t preceded by a lengthy story.


Sometimes other things enhance a song. Mike and the Moonpies do a fine cover of Wier’s song but it is the accompanying video that elevates it to a new level. Like, in an ideal world you would walk into a bustling bar and this would be playing on some big screen. Despite the news, hopefully this gets the feet tapping and raises a smile for a while.

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This version really makes you want to dance. And speaking of dancing these two as well and finally my favourite. We’ve all been there.