A perfect summer spread greeted guests arriving at BMI’s Nashville headquarters Monday (July 16) to honor Luke Bryan, the Capitol Records artist and co-writer of Billy Currington’s recent No. 1 single, “Good Directions.” The festive array of food, drink and table decorations was inspired by the images in the song’s lyrics.
Currington, who is still sidelined by severe laryngitis, did not attend. However, ASCAP member Rachel Thibodeau (Bryan’s co-writer) and Carson Chamberlain (who produced Currington’s single) were both on hand to bask in the crowd’s applause. (BMI and ASCAP are competing performance rights organizations.)
Early arrivers headed straight for the buffet table piled high with tomato appetizers, miniature hamburgers, salsa and chips, Moon Pies and the makings for Coke and root beer floats. Then, after a detour to the bar to pick up a glass of sweet tea or a serious drink, the guests ferried their high-calorie swag to stand-up tables that were decorated with red-and-white checked tablecloths and bouquets of zinnias thrust into institutional size turnip-greens cans with the labels still on.
A half-hour into the noshing, BMI’s Jody Williams called the crowd to order. He began by reciting a brief biography of Bryan, noting that the Leesburg, Ga., native had developed into one of his state’s “most sought after acts,” even as circumstances had forced him to shoulder responsibilities for his family’s farm and fertilizer business.
Williams lauded Bryan’s strong work ethic and pointed out he is currently enjoying chart success with another self-penned song, “All My Friends Say.” Following a newly-established BMI practice, Williams presented Bryan a guitar to commemorate his first No. 1 song. Next came trophies for Chamberlain and the song’s publisher, Roger Murrah.
Murrah, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, was in a jovial mood when he came forward to congratulate Bryan.
“I told Luke when he got into town that his background in the fertilizer business would be helpful,” he joked.
Taking its cue from song’s title, Murrah’s company gave Bryan a global positioning system device.
Bryan kept his acceptance remarks brief, devoting most of his time to thanking those who had supported him along the way. Grinning at the memory, he complained that his family had no idea how the music business worked, especially for someone who both writes and records songs. When his family asked, “‘Why did you give that song to Billy?,'” Bryan recalled, “I had to explain to them I didn’t ‘give’ it to him.” He told Williams that BMI should create a Cliffs Notes for the families of songwriters.
Then it was time for one last Moon Pie.