Only the Brave: Dierks Bentley Explains the Power of A Sad Song

We interview country music star Dierks Bentley about his song for the film Only the Brave and his chances at an Oscar nomination.

Dierks Bentley is well known in the country music scene and has now made his mark in the film world with the title song, "Hold the Light," for Only The Brave. The song is a touching tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots who gave their lives to protect people and structures from dangerous fires. Bentley is not only a Grammy nominated performer, but he is known to give back to the community that he shares a kinship with. After the Yarnell Hill Fire, for which Only the Brave is based on, Dierks led a benefit concert to raise funds for the fallen firefighters’ families, and raised nearly half a million dollars. Just recently, the singer signed up to take part in ‘Country Rising’ a benefit concert to be held in Last Vegas to raise funds for the victims’ families and first responders of October’s Las Vegas shooting.

Screen Rant had the pleasure of speaking with Dierks about "Hold the Light", his astonishment with the perfomances in the film, and potentially being nominated for an Oscar.

So the song that closes the film, "Hold the Light," it was breathtaking. I can’t listen to the song without tearing up.

Dierks Bentley: Good, that’s the goal.

I couldn’t watch the credit sequence. I had to leave. I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear, but what’s the message of the song, and you just mentioned those were the types of feelings that you did want to stir up.

Dierks Bentley: The power of a sad song is that it makes you feel like that voice coming through the dash of your car. It makes you relate to what you’re going through. Happy songs don’t necessarily make you feel happier when you’re done. What makes me feel better is hearing someone going, ‘yeah i can relate to what you’re going through’. For the song to have that kind of impact on you means we did our job right. I think the goal of the song is just what would these guys, these nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters, what would they want to say to their loved ones. It’s a heavy topic to take on. It’s heavy, and I think they would want to say, ‘hold the light’. Find hope. Find that something that’s going to help you get through this. That was the idea of the song and just to be associated with this movie is awesome for me.

Would you call this the ‘Candle in the Wind’ for the Hotshots?

Dierks Bentley: Oh yeah. Maybe so, yeah. I would. I feel that it goes deeper than that too. I feel like right now with all this terrible stuff going on, Las Vegas, it’s about these hotshot fighters, but it’s also about first responders in general. People who put their lives on the line every day, and run towards danger when the rest of us are running away from it. So the song to take on a broader context it would go that direction for all first responders.

What scene stuck out to you the most?

Dierks Bentley: You know everytime I see it it’s a little different. The first couple of times it was just hard to get through and I would get balled up in the very beginning, but now just the acting is what really sticks out to me now. Jennifer Connelly in the car last night when she throws down in that fight. She’s like all in. She’s such a good actress. So that scene stuck out. I was like man you’re in the theater watching it with all these actors and actress you’re thinking about what they went through to play that part. How do they do this? The craft of acting is very interesting to me. I know what I do very well to a point when I talk about what I do it’s not really that interesting to me personally. But watching actors and actresses do what they do stands out a lot. The performances are great. Obviously, I was seeing it next to Brendan the 20th Granite Mountain Hotshot so seeing him as that last twenty minutes comes in is pretty heavy. You feel the whole theater kind of just like [sucks in air]. You know I love the top of the movie too when they’re running up the top of the mountain telling stories. Taylor’s [Kitsch] talking about the girl he hooked up with, and it’s totally inappropriate and it’s funny. You get a little taste of the lifestyle that these guys lived you know. It’s a bunch of guys out there training, working hard, having fun. There’s a lot of great parts, and the soundtrack’s great too. The music is very rock and roll times.

It is. What do you feel about the song generating Oscar buzz? I’m sure when you were writing it that wasn’t your goal.

Dierks Bentley: No, honestly this story is so important to me. I’m from Arizona. This happened back in 2012 we put on a benefit concert in Prescott to help, to do something, so I’m very attached to this story. I’m just so thankful this story’s being told, and people are going to learn about these Granite Mountain Hotshots. Their families are going to have this movie. People are raising awareness about what these guys are doing locally in their own communities. Yeah, I did see something about an Oscar thing. I said, ‘that’s pretty cool’, and someone sent me a link to some other songs that were nominated like Common and I’m like “ahh”. Common’s so good. Oh no. You don’t realize how many big songs are out there in movies and stuff so it was a little bit like yeah. It’s cool to even talk about it. Just to be on the set. I feel like a Hollywood actor for a day. It’s pretty cool.

Like you said, the song touches people. It did, myself.

Dierks Bentley: What’s cool is that the composer of the movie is actually the main songwriter. He’s Joe Trapanese. He is the one that really brought this on to my attention. They had a lot of the song and melody written. He also scored the movie so the whole movie has that melody playing and tickling in and out. Going heavy here and then come out. In the movie the song comes in with the same melody. It’s not just some song planted in at the end it’s very cohesive. So I think that’s unique to the movie.

MORE: James Badge Dale & Taylor Kitsch Interview for Only the Brave

Key Release Dates
  • Only the Brave (2017) release date: Oct 20, 2017
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