Montgomery Gentry needed two parties Thursday (Aug. 23) to celebrate their first multi-week No. 1 single, “Lucky Man.” The celebrations on Nashville’s Music Row had special significance for the artists and songwriters alike.
Unlike most No. 1 parties, where an artist doesn’t have a particularly close relationship with the songwriters, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry have a long history of friendship with the song’s co-writers, David Lee and Dave Turnbull. They all met before any of them found success, and all four of them continued to support and encourage one another through the years.
The first of two back-to-back bashes was held at ASCAP, a performance rights organization, was supposed to have started at 4:30 p.m. to honor Turnbull, but Montgomery Gentry showed up fashionably late — although fashionably on-cue as always. Despite the 104-degree weather outside, Montgomery waltzed in sporting his trademark long, black, beaded jacket with jeans and a hat. He said he grew up cutting tobacco on the farm during the summer, so he was accustomed to the heat and wasn’t going to let it stop him from dressing up for the occasion. Gentry, on the other hand, opted for a tightfitting T-shirt and jeans.
Once the duo arrived, though, they wanted all of the attention pointed toward the songwriters. The party at ASCAP’s offices recognized Turnbull’s very first No. 1 song. He moved to Nashville in 1993 to continue his songwriting career.
During her introductory comments before handing out a series of plaques, ASCAP senior vice president Connie Bradley pointed out that “Lucky Man” is Montgomery Gentry’s third No. 1 single. Turnbull thanked anyone and everyone he could think of, referring back to his written list several times. Ironically, he ended up having to be reminded to thank his mother. Turnbull apparently left the U.S. Naval Academy to pursue his dreams as a songwriter, and Montgomery Gentry’s No. 1 single finally provided the validation to prove to his mother he had made the right career decision.
With one party down and another to go, the next celebration took place two blocks away to honor Lee, who is affiliated with BMI, another performance rights organization. To catch the attention of the chatty industry crowd at BMI’s offices, BMI’s vice president of writer-publisher relations Jody Williams held up a sign made out of a Popsicle stick and a piece of paper featuring one word — “Shhh.” The trick seemed to keep everyone quiet during the presentations.
Williams spoke highly of Lee, pointing out his previous success as a songwriter. Much like Turnbull, Lee moved to Nashville in 1993 with his wife and a mere $300 to his name. He wrote Lee Ann Womack’s “(Now You See Me) Now You Don’t,” and his first No. 1 single was Mark Wills’ “19 Something.” He also co-wrote Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s current duet, “I Need You.”
And if a few people had started up conversations again while Lee’s accolades were being listed, all attention went back to the stage when Lee became emotional in front of the microphone. He spoke of how he never imagined a concrete worker from Wichita Falls, Texas, would make it as a songwriter in Nashville, much less achieve two No. 1 songs. And looking out into the crowd, he pointed to his dad, who was standing in the front row wearing a cowboy hat and holding a camera like any proud papa would, and thanked him for playing and singing country music to him while he was growing up. Lee wrapped up his speech by saying, “To all of you songwriters out there, don’t give up. If I can do this, anyone can.”
Lindsey Roznovsky is a writer for CMT Radio.