Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Mark Twain? Satchel Paige? William Purkey? Susanna Clark? Richard Leigh? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following words are attributed to a variety of people including Mark Twain, Satchel Paige, and William Purkey:

Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth.

The ordering of the lines varies, and sometimes other statements are inserted. Could you explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1987 the songwriters Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh composed “Come from the Heart” which included the following lyrics:

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

QI believes that the other sets of expressions containing the statement “dance like nobody’s watching” were derived from these lyrics. There is no substantive support for ascriptions to Mark Twain or Satchel Paige. Additional information about the attribution to William Purkey is given further below. The important reference work “The Yale Book of Quotations” has an entry ascribing the lyrics to Clark and Leigh. 1

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Dance Like Nobody’s Watching


  1. 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section Susanna Clark, Quote Page 156, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)