ASCAP, the performance rights organization, threw a much belated party Tuesday (Dec. 18) at its Nashville headquarters to celebrate the chart-topping success of “Give It Away.”
Recorded by George Strait and co-written by ASCAP member Buddy Cannon, the song went No. 1 in Billboard on Sept. 30, 2006. It was subsequently voted song of the year by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association and is currently in the running for two Grammy awards: best country song and best male country vocal performance.
Even with the holidays impending, dozens of Music Row workers and most of Cannon’s immediate family jammed into ASCAP’s towering reception hall to share in the fun.
“When Connie called the other day and said she wanted to have this party, I thought it had gone No. 1 again,” Cannon joked, referring to ASCAP senior vice president Connie Bradley, who presided over the ceremonies.
Cannon’s co-writers, Jamey Johnson and Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson, both joined in the celebration although Anderson didn’t arrive until after the awards had been handed out. Johnson and Anderson are both affiliated with BMI, a competing performance rights group.
“This guy has had an amazing career,” Bradley said of Cannon. She noted that, as a record label executive, he had been instrumental in signing Shania Twain, Sammy Kershaw and Billy Ray Cyrus and that he had produced virtually all of Kenny Chesney’s hits. In addition, she noted, he and Chesney had just co-produced Willie Nelson’s forthcoming album, Moments of Forever.
As a songwriter, Bradley continued, Cannon had co-penned such hits as Vern Gosdin’s “Dream of Me” and “Set ‘Em Up Joe” and Strait’s “I’ve Come to Expect It From You.”
“When we finished up [‘Give It Away’],” Cannon recalled, “we thought we just had another song.” Then with a grin he added, “Everybody vote for us in the Grammys.”
While the ceremonies were taking place, an ASCAP staffer circulated through the crowd handing out numbered slips of paper. Bradley then explained that in the spirit of the song she wanted to “give away” some of the items mentioned in the lyrics — which chronicle the breakup of a marriage and a home.
To that end, she had assembled a picture, a couple of worse-for-wear bedside table lamps, an old toaster and a Bill Anderson vinyl album, each item autographed by the songwriters. The crowd played along with zeal as numbers were drawn and called out, and some of the winners beamed as though they had won a Grammy.
The always quotable Johnson had the last word. “If we get a Grammy,” he promised, “I’m gonna blow something up here. There’s a bar that’s gonna get punished.”