BMI, the performance rights organization, hosted a party at its Nashville offices Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 8) to honor singer-songwriter Bruce Robison, the composer of George Strait’s most recent hit, “Wrapped.”
Strait, who did not attend the celebration, was represented by his manager, Erv Woolsey, and executives from MCA, his record label.
Calling him “one of the greatest Texas songwriters ever,” BMI’s Jody Williams said Robison has distinguished himself by writing or co-writing such hits as “Angry All the Time” (for Tim McGraw), “Travelin’ Soldier” (Dixie Chicks) and “Desperately” (Strait).
Robison’s wife, singer-songwriter Kelly Willis, was among the wall-to-wall crowd cheering his achievements.
Williams also used the occasion to praise and poke fun at Carnival Music, Robison’s publisher, by pointing out that the people at Carnival have a propensity for living up to the company’s festive name.
“Is Carnival the classiest independent music publisher in Nashville?” Williams asked rhetorically. Then brandishing a roll of toilet paper emblazoned with the company’s logo, he answered, “I think not. But is Carnival the hottest independent publisher in Nashville? Absolutely!”
Frank Liddell, who runs Carnival with partner Travis Hill, related to the crowd how he initially came into contact with Robison and subsequently signed him as Carnival’s first writer. He said that Robison, then an unknown, had spotted singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale in an airport and had tried to have him listen to one of his demo tapes. Lauderdale, looking for a way out, suggested that it would be better if Robison just sent the tape directly to Liddell to evaluate.
Robison followed Lauderdale’s advice — except he got Liddell’s name wrong. Thus the tape arrived addressed to “Frank Hiddell.” It was not a promising start. “Just out of sheer curiosity,” Liddell said, “I threw the tape on [and listened to it].” He was sufficiently impressed by what he heard to strike up a relationship — and then a business agreement — with the tall Texan.
The soft-voiced Robison dutifully thanked Liddell and a string of others who had supported his music, chief among them his wife. While he didn’t recite the history of “Wrapped,” he did observe, “That song’s been bouncing around a long time.”