“Last Day” Best Day for Phil Vassar, Tim Ryan

It's Singer's First Ballad to Hit No. 1

As both singer and co-writer of the song, Phil Vassar was definitely in a party mood Monday (Aug. 14) as his family, friends and associates swarmed into Nashville’s ASCAP building to celebrate “Last Day of My Life” reaching No. 1 in the trade publication, Radio & Records. Although it was Vassar’s seventh such triumph as a songwriter, it was the first for “Last Day” co-writer, Tim Ryan.

“Tim’s been waiting for this No. 1 record for years,” said ASCAP senior vice president Connie Bradley. “So [his] life is complete.” She awarded Ryan a monogrammed “No. 1” jacket, which has become an ASCAP tradition for first-timers.

Pointing to Ryan’s fancy footwear, Vassar cracked, “He spent all his [royalty] money on these boots.” Ryan recorded for Epic Records in the early 1990s and scored such minor hits as “Dance in Circles,” “Breakin’ All the Way” and “I Will Love You Anyhow.”

“It’s a miracle to get a No. 1 song anymore,” Vassar told the crowd, noting that doing so required him to confront formidable chart competitors like “Kenny Kong” [Kenny Chesney] and Tim McGraw.

“Sure, it’s nice to have a No. 1,” Ryan mused, “but it’s nicer to have it with somebody you respect and admire.”

Among the hundreds of well-wishers attending were Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame members Wayland Holyfield and Rory Michael Bourke. Bourke was Vassar’s co-writer on the hits “Bye Bye,” “Carlene” and “Little Red Rodeo.”

Chatting with reporters before the party, Vassar acknowledged that “Last Day of My Life” — which counsels savoring the moment — “seems to be pretty impactful” to his fans. “It’s nice when you can write a song that relates to other people,” he said. He also pointed out that this was his first ballad to reach No. 1.

Vassar reported that he hasn’t yet shot a music video for “The Woman in My Life,” his follow-up single to “Last Day of My Life” But he said he’s started his “video dieting.”
The idea for the new single, he continued, came from his wife, singer-songwriter Julie Wood-Vassar.

Vassar said he’d spent his life surrounded by strong women — from his grandmothers to his daughters — and then quipped, “I’m face down in the estrogen pool.”

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