You know the awards traffic is getting fierce when Music Row starts handing them out at breakfast. That’s the tack BMI, the performance rights organization, took Wednesday (Sept. 21) when it honored the writers, publishers and producers of Brooks & Dunn’s latest No. 1 single, “Play Something Country.”
Terry McBride and Ronnie Dunn wrote the song; Tony Brown and Brooks & Dunn produced it; and Still Working for the Man Music, Sony/ATV Tree and Turn Me On Music published it.
“The only one making any money off this song,” cracked Sirius Radio’s Charlie Monk as the principals struggled to hold all their trophies, “is the guy who made the plaques.”
Guests began streaming into BMI’s Nashville headquarters a half-hour before the awards ceremony started. They were greeted by an artery-clogging buffet spread from the Loveless Café, around which hovered a waitress wearing a gray “Got Biscuits” T-shirt. Dunn and McBride arrived early for interviews, but Brooks dropped in just minutes before the ceremony got underway, moving slowly through the crowd like a magnet through metal shavings.
Whether it was a nod to the coming of fall or an expression of irony wasn’t clear, but the awards to be handed out lay piled on hay bales beside the speaker’s stand.
BMI’s Harry Warner called the crowd to order and introduced Still Working for the Man’s Clay Myers to preside over the first round of awards. “I shaved my legs/And I paid my money,” Myers chanted from the song being honored, “a-o-o-o-h, play something country.” Secure in the knowledge he had gained the onlookers’ attention, he summoned Dunn, Brooks and Brown to step forward and receive their plaques.
Then Warner distributed BMI cups to all involved, followed by Sony/ATV Tree’s Woody Bomar, who did the same. A representative of Country Radio Broadcasters presented certificates of achievement to Brooks, Dunn and McBride.
Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, began his remarks by asserting, “The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” He was referring to a story that appeared earlier that morning in the local daily that he would soon be retiring from the CMA post he’s held since 1992. That done, he conferred certificates on the singers and songwriters.
Warner asked McBride to say a few words. “It started out a long time ago,” McBride began ponderously. “I was a young boy in Texas.” Turning serious, he said when he was driving in for the ceremony, he thought about how proud his dad would have been of his accomplishment. His father, country singer Dale McBride, died in 1992.
McBride mused about the joys of writing with and for Brooks & Dunn. He thanked Brooks for writing “Sacred Ground,” a No. 2 hit in 1992 for his own group, McBride & the Ride. He further expressed gratitude to Brown for bringing him to Nashville and to Brooks & Dunn “for allowing me to keep my home.”
McBride recalled another No. 1 party he’d attended — this one not his own — at which he had been accosted by a man who claimed to be a big fan of his songwriting. As the man began reeling off song titles, McBride said, it suddenly occurred to him that the admirer thought he was fellow songwriter Jeffrey Steele.
“First of all, thank you, Jeff,” Dunn cracked when he took the microphone. “I thought you were Jeffrey Steele all these years. We’re through with you.” His successes notwithstanding, the rooster-combed Dunn observed that people have started commenting about his age. (He’s 52). “That just makes me want to work out more and spend more money on hair care products,” he beamed.