Imagine an awards show staged in an elevator during rush hour and you’ll have some feeling for what it was like Thursday (May 10) at the No. 1 party for Trace Adkins’ current single, “Ladies Love Country Boys.”
ASCAP and BMI, the major performance rights organizations, jointly honored Adkins and the song’s writers — Jamey Johnson, George Teren and Rivers Rutherford — at a faux Irish pub at the foot of Music Row. It was standing room only. Literally. If you weren’t standing by the bar or one of the out-of-way food tables when the ceremony began, you were pretty much out of luck for the duration.
So many people packed so closely together generated so much noise that it was often impossible to hear what the presenters were saying as they handed out the awards. At one point, the clamor reached such an intolerable level that Mike Dungan, the head of Capitol Records Nashville, Adkins’ label, jokingly roared, “Shut the hell up, or Jamey Johnson and I are going to come back there and kick your ass.” Johnson is a former Marine.
ASCAP representative Dan Keen reminded the crowd that Rutherford now has six songs on the Billboard charts and observed that he is just as impressive a singer as he is a songwriter. As proof, Keen recalled Rutherford’s soulful performance of “When I Get Where I’m Going,” the song he co-wrote for Brad Paisley, at last year’s ASCAP country awards ceremony. “He channeled Ray Charles,” Keen claimed.
BMI’s Jody Williams presented Teren and Johnson each a commemorative guitar for their achievement. He noted that Teren has so far racked up six No. 1’s and that he came to songwriting after a career in writing jingles for which he had won both Clio and Emmy awards.
Johnson, Williams continued, had co-written the earlier Trace Adkins favorite, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” and had scored his first No. 1 with “Give It Away” for George Strait. As an artist [on BNA Records], Williams pointed out, Johnson had made his chart debut with “The Dollar.”
Rutherford remarked that “Ladies Love Country Boys” was one of the few songs that truly benefited from having a companion music video.
“When I first heard that song, it made me laugh,” Adkins told the crowd. “It reminded me of when Rhonda [his wife] and I were getting serious. … Her parents, the first time they met me, were horrified.” There he was, he explained, a redneck from the oil fields cozying up to “their little debutante.”
“This song, it’s real,” Adkins asserted.
Johnson had the best line of the evening: “I think we should thank Carrie Underwood for not putting out any songs about Jesus during the life of this song.”
It was also fortunate there wasn’t a fourth co-writer. There wouldn’t have been room at the party.