Kenny Chesney dropped by the party Monday (April 24) to thank David Lee Murphy and Rivers Rutherford personally for writing his latest No. 1 single, “Living in Fast Forward.” Originally scheduled for Owen Bradley Park on Music Row, the celebration was moved into the adjacent ASCAP building at the last minute when it started to rain.
The two songwriters told reporters before the party began that they wrote “Living in Fast Forward” during the last half hour or so of their first writing session together. Following the session, Rutherford said, he rushed over to a previously scheduled meeting with Chesney’s producer, Buddy Cannon. When Cannon asked, “You got anything for Kenny?” Rutherford sang him the brand new composition. Cannon took it on the spot without waiting to hear a demo. “[Kenny’s] record is the demo,” Murphy said.
As the two writers recalled it, Murphy came up with the line that inspired the song — “I’ve been living in fast forward” — while Rutherford chimed in with the image that starts the first verse — “The body’s a temple, that’s what we’re told/I treated this one like an old honky-tonk.”
One of the reporters pointed out that the phrases “fast forward” and “rewind,” both of which are rooted in analog tape technology, might sound strange to younger ears. “Yeah,” Rutherford agreed. “Today it’s ‘scan’ and ‘repeat.'”
The two said they didn’t write the song with Chesney in mind, although they conceded it didn’t take them long to see how well it fit him. “I don’t write anything I wouldn’t cut myself,” said Rutherford. Added Murphy, “I don’t think of any implications past, ‘Does it make sense to me?'”
Murphy, who is without a label but continues to tour, said he’s not “actively looking” for a record deal. “I just like to make music,” he said.
Following their chat with reporters, the writers came out into ASCAP’s reception area to greet the crowd. As is his custom in these situations, Chesney arrived and circulated among the well-wishers almost unnoticed, his shoulders bent forward and his dark blue baseball cap pulled low over his eyes. While he may sizzle on stage, Chesney seems averse to drawing attention to himself when he’s off.
ASCAP chief Connie Bradley beckoned Chesney and the writers to the front of the room to receive their No. 1 awards and pose for pictures. She noted that “Living in Fast Forward” had been No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart for three weeks. She also announced that Chesney, who is not yet halfway through his tour, has already sold more than 700,000 tickets. “And these are arenas — not Tootsie’s,” Bradley chirped, referring to the famed bar in downtown Nashville.
A representative of the Gibson guitar company presented Rutherford an acoustic guitar signed by the three artists who’ve most recently enjoyed hits from his pen — Gretchen Wilson (“Homewrecker”), Brad Paisley (“When I Get Where I’m Going”) and Chesney. Bradley gave him a three-disc plaque for that same achievement.
“We had just about the whole album cut,” Chesney explained to the crowd, “but I didn’t have that perfect live song.” Then, addressing the writers, he added, “I can’t wait for you two to come out to the show and see what an effect it has.”