Celebrants jammed the reception hall at ASCAP’s Nashville headquarters Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 21) to see Kenny Chesney and Brett James honored for co-writing Chesney’s latest No. 1 single, “Out Last Night.”
The song was James’ sixth No. 1 and Chesney’s fourth as songwriters. As an artist, it was Chesney’s 19th No. 1.
Connie Bradley, ASCAP’s senior vice president, told the crowd that James’ presence at the ceremony involved some tight scheduling since he had just returned the day before from a six-week tour of Europe.
Bradley further noted that Chesney is now the biggest ticket-seller this century in any genre of music.
Hank Adam Locklin, CMA senior manager of membership and industry relations, presented the two writers plaques from the organization. Noting he had long been impressed by Chesney’s character, he recalled driving the singer to the 2004 CMA Awards Show where he was up for the entertainer of the year award.
When someone asked him if he was going to appear at a press conference if he didn’t win, Locklin said Chesney replied, “Of course, I’ll do press. These are my friends. This is my industry.” He won the award — and four more just like it since.
Troy Tomlinson, who’s been Chesney’s music publisher for 18 years (first at Acuff-Rose, now at Sony ATV), said people constantly ask him what the what’s the best and worst parts about working with Chesney.
He said the best and worst factors are the same: “Getting him to cut his own songs.”
Tomlinson went on to explain that as a publisher, he wants Chesney to record as many of his own songs as he can since that means more income for the publisher — and the songwriter. But he added that he also admires the fact that Chesney routinely submerges his own commercial interest to hold out for the best songs.
Even when Chesney does record one of his own, Tomlinson continued, he’s likely to leave the track off the album in deference to other material and is notoriously resistant to peeling off one of his recorded songs for a single.
“I want to thank Kenny for including me in his ridiculously successful career,” said James after he had expressed gratitude to his wife and kids, who stood nearby as the awards were handed out.
Chesney responded by calling James “one of the world’s greatest songwriters.”
Playing off a phrase in the raucous “Out Last Night,” James presented Chesney a black T-shirt emblazoned with the legend “Brad Pitt’s Brother.” Then he showed another he’d designed for himself that proclaimed, “Brad Pitt’s Other Brother.”View photos from the No. 1 party.