“Go buy some new living room furniture. And a La-Z-Boy. You’re rich.” That’s the advice Jimmy Buffett sent to songwriter Jim Brown, whose composition, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, is also doing wonders for Buffett’s own bank account and visibility. The Alan Jackson single, on which Buffett provides guest vocals, stayed at the top of the country charts for eight weeks and then went on to win the Country Music Association’s vocal event of the year award. Brown, who co-wrote the tropical-tinged hit with Don Rollins, was the guest of honor at a party ASCAP, the performance rights society, hosted Thursday (Nov. 6) at its Nashville offices.
Buffett’s handwritten “shopping list,” as well as a companion note from Jackson, were delivered to Brown on a large ornate plaque. “Congratulations,” Jackson wrote. “Thanks for such a big song. Send another one. Keep it country.” Jackson also sent both writers gift baskets that contained champagne, glasses and his music video of their song. ASCAP gave Brown a monogrammed “No. 1” jacket and a trophy. (Rollins is affiliated with BMI, a competing performance right organization, which honored him with his own “Five O’clock” party last month.)
Brown has been writing and performing in and around Nashville for 21 years before scoring this first hit. Craig Wiseman, ASCAP’s recently crowned songwriter of the year, told the partygoers that he and Brown — both of whom played in bands — used to vie for club dates that paid virtually nothing. He presented Brown a framed document titled: “Dues PAID.” With tongue only partly in cheek, Wiseman had listed below the title some of the torments songwriters and artists endure on their way to the top: “Make Momma cry; Leave for Nashville; Make hundreds of dollars a year; Spend Christmas and birthdays in a honky-tonk … Play ‘some Hank’ a thousand times; Pawn some gear; [Watch one or all of these go ‘psycho’]: road manager, club owner, drummer, girlfriend; Almost quit . . . Write a drinking song; Have a huge hit; Make Momma cry.”
Picking up on this theme of struggle, a staff member of Brown’s publishing company recalled that Brown once boasted to an audience at Nashville’s Bluebird Café, “I’ve had a cut nearly every month this year. Nearly in January. Nearly in February . . . .”
Brown thanked his father, sister, cousins, wife and sons, all of whom were on hand to congratulate him, as were Joe Galante, the head of Jackson’s record label; Keith Stegall, Jackson’s producer; and Gary Overton, Brown’s publisher. “Can I say something else?” Brown asked, after he had completed his thank-yous. “If it’s about the money,” Overton interrupted, “it’s coming.”