It’s not often that a songwriter upstages a star, but it happens every time Craig Wiseman writes a hit for Kenny Chesney. And it happened again Tuesday (Dec. 19) at the party ASCAP staged at its Nashville digs to celebrate “Summertime” — Chesney’s recording and Wiseman’s composition — reaching No. 1.
While Chesney strove with downcast eyes and slumped shoulders to blend into the scenery, the Falstaffian Wiseman paraded about the room in a flowery shirt and Santa hat, trailing a wake of good cheer behind him.
“Summertime,” as ASCAP’s Connie Bradley reminded the revelers, is Wiseman’s 14th No. 1 single. (He co-wrote it with BMI writer Steve McEwan, who was not on hand for the festivities.)
In addition to ASCAP, several other organizations conferred plaques and certificates on Wiseman, Chesney and their minions. But, as customary, Wiseman designed and handed out the flashiest, most imaginative trophies himself.
Explaining that he had learned to make “tacky” ornaments at church camp, Wiseman held up the latest example of his handiwork for everyone to see. It consisted of a Yoo-hoo bottle, clasped by a pair of sunglasses and mounted on a gaudy mirrored base (all in reference to the lyrics “cheap shades” and “a Yoo-hoo bottle on the floorboard.”)
When Chesney instinctively recoiled from grasping the object thrust at him, Wiseman reproached him with, “Come on, Kenny. You’ve got a shelf of that fancy Lucite shit.”
Bradley also used the occasion to honor Buddy Cannon, Chesney’s longtime producer. As a songwriter, Cannon recently enjoyed his own No. 1 via George Strait’s “Give It Away.” Bradley said she had unsuccessfully tried to involve the reclusive Strait in a celebration of the song.
Finally, she explained, she tracked Strait down when he was in town for another event and corralled him into posing for a picture with Cannon. Overjoyed at her coup, she took the camera back to ASCAP — where a prowler promptly stole it with the precious picture inside. Cannon had to settle for a certificate.