Songwriters Cheered for “Living and Living Well”

“The title of the song says it all,” observed Broadcast Music Inc.’s Harry Warner. “It looks like we’re living and living well.” Warner spoke to guests gathered at the performance rights organization’s offices Friday (July 12) for a breakfast to honor Tony Martin, Mark Nesler and Tom Shapiro, the writers of George Strait ’s latest hit, “Living and Living Well.”

In accepting his trophy, Martin said he had noticed one day that both of his co-writers had goatees and the song had been at No. 1 for two weeks. Sensing a correlation, he continued, he quickly shaped his beard into a goatee and earned the song its third week at the top. “Now that I realize the power of facial hair,” he said, “I’m not sure what to do with it.”

Nesler had a similarly light-hearted point to make about his composing companions: “When I show up [for an appointment] with them, I’m not sure whether we’re going to write or play golf for the day.”

Shapiro explained that Strait was not at all sold on the song when he heard the original demo, but that his producer, Tony Brown, had liked it so well he had gone into the studio and re-demoed it for the artist. “So we’re going to have Tony do all our demos,” Shapiro joked. Brown’s demo rates may be a tad high since he is also senior partner of Universal South Records.

Woody Bomar, senior vice president and general manager of creative services for Sony/ATV/Tree, informed the crowd that “Living and Living Well” was Shapiro’s 20th No. 1 hit.

BMI also handed out awards to the song’s publishers and to Erv Woolsey, Strait’s manager. Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, presented certificates of achievement to the three songwriters, all of whom are CMA members.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.