Dierks Bentley grows instantly reflective when he talks about his new song Hold the Light.

The ballad pays tribute to people dear to his heart, the 19 elite Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died battling a 2013 wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.

“It is haunting,” say Bentley, inhaling sharply over the phone. “Whenever I hear the song, it stirs up a crazy range of emotions. For sure.”

Bentley is ready to share Hold the Light, the central track in the film Only the Brave, which can be heard now exclusively at usatoday.com before it goes on sale at midnight Friday.

Bentley, a native of Phoenix, pitched in after the tragedy, organizing a concert that raised more than $475,000 for the victims’ families. The country music star jumped at the chance to get an early look at Only the Brave (in theaters Oct. 20), which stars Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges and Miles Teller as what he calls the “Navy SEALs of firefighters.”

When the lights came up after the emotional screening, director Joseph Kosinski asked Bentley if he would contribute to the rough version of the song that closes the film. The musician agreed to work on it with songwriters Sean Carey, Joe Trapanese and Jon Randall, as well as provide lead vocals.

“My first reaction was ‘This song is perfect.’ But I was honored to be asked and thought maybe I could take it up a notch and put my voice on it,” says Bentley. “It’s made me feel very attached to this story.”

Even though the song deals with loss, lyrics such as “I’ll see you on this side, or the other,” give hope.

“The message of the song is that you are never alone,” says Kosinski , who knew Hold the Light would end the movie as soon as he heard it. “It shows the enduring sense of camaraderie and support for one another at the core of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, whether they were working on the fires or back home just living their lives.”


A star-studded cast portrays the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the Arizona firefighters who fought the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history.

Bentley has big respect for the actors who played the real heroes onscreen.

“I don’t know how they can…