Messina, Diffie Celebrate With a Hot “Damn”

Four Years After It Was Written, Sassy Single Hits No. 1

Jo Dee Messina has long loved the stage, but it has been a while since she’s shared one with songwriters, publishers and record label personnel. However, almost every person behind the hit, “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” took a moment to congratulate Messina at the No. 1 party at BMI in Nashville on Wednesday evening (May 11).

“I am ecstatic,” she told reporters before the party started. “It was beyond any expectation. At the point where I was releasing the first single off the album, I just wanted to get the music out there. So having the record do what it did in the time it’s [taken], that is truly beyond what I expected.”

Joe Diffie, Tony Martin and Tom Shapiro wrote the sassy song more than four years ago after Diffie asked for a tune with attitude. He even included it on his 2001 album In Another World, but the label refused to release it as a single.

Prior to the party, Diffie explained, “We discussed, when I recorded the song the first time, changing it to something else — darn, dang. But it just didn’t have the same zip: ’My Give a Dang’s Busted.'”

He holds no grudge, however. “I’m not crying, believe me. In fact, I’ve got a bunch more songs if anybody wants to hear ’em!”

Shapiro, who has had writing credits on 23 No. 1 country hits, said, “Sometimes you have a hit, and you know that it got up there because the promotion team at the label really wanted it to be there. I feel this was a hit. I felt like it did really good things for her career, and people really liked it. That is gratifying, and you don’t get that all the time.”

Martin remembered hearing an old man make the wisecrack that inspired the song. “All the old guys I know have said that their whole life,” he said. “They said, ’My mother used to say that to me.’ That’s the kind of thing you’d get a whoopin’ for if you said it to your mother, but she can say it to you.”

None of the writers know how Messina found the song, and Diffie didn’t even know she cut it until a friend called him after hearing it on the radio. Her version had already been in the vault for several years due to extensive delays in making her album. She admitted that the word concerned her, too, but decided to release the song as-is.

“I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t know if people would get the joke. I didn’t know if they’d see humor in it. And then after I recorded it, I was like, ’Oh, my God, do I sound mad?'” she said, cracking up with laughter.

Ultimately, she has no reason to be upset. The song remains atop the Billboard singles chart this week — her first No. 1 since “Bring on the Rain” in March 2002. Messina’s Delicious Surprise keeps the top spot on the albums chart, where it debuted last week.

Asked about a new single, she said she didn’t know what the label would release next. And while the tune fits her personality, as well as the custom-made slacks she wore in the video, she was reluctant to call it her signature song.

“I hate to say it’s a signature song because that would be holding myself in this little spot,” she said. “That would be like caging myself. I’m not just one or the other. I’m so many things. And I think if you listen to the record as a whole, you’ll see it. There’s ’My Give a Damn’s Busted,’ and then there’s ’Where Were You,’ which is pissed off, and there’s ’It Gets Better,’ which is hope, and then there’s ’Life Is Good,’ about enjoying a day like today. It’s hard to say this is it because I am so much more than one thing.”

Encouraged by reporters, Messina playfully revived a song from long ago — “Susan’s Birthday Holiday,” which she sang at age 6 as part of a song-and-dance routine for her first stage performance. At that moment, she knew she was hooked on show biz.

“I loved to be up there, and I loved to make people laugh and just enjoy life,” she said. “That’s the beautiful thing about music. It’s simple. Ever since then, I was always in it to be the entertainer.”

She also shrieked in laughter when told that some of her fans were perhaps disappointed that fellow fitness buff Kenny Chesney married Renee Zellweger instead of her.

“I have known Kenny forever and ever and ever,” she said. “He’ll tell you the story about when we ran into each other at Wal-Mart. He had a record that had just come out and doing really well, and I was stuck in one of my little holding patterns. He gave me a pep talk, right there in the Wal-Mart. He’s a great friend, and I’m happy for him. When someone can find happiness, I think it’s ugly to sit back and pick it apart. So I’m just ecstatic. I’m ecstatic. He’s a lucky guy to have it.”