(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
If there’s anything more moving than a grown man crying tears of joy, I don’t know what it is. The CMA Awards were almost 48 hours ago, and I’ve since watched the acceptance speeches more times than I care to admit. They are all very heartfelt. But two of them — Brad Paisley for entertainer of the year and producer Frank Liddell for Miranda Lambert’s album of the year — are ones I go back to again and again. I guess I’m some kind of glutton for man tears. Paisley’s eyes were glassy and his voice crackly the minute he walked up to the microphone. Then he moves into a full-on cry when he says, “It sounds like a cliché when you say thanks to the fans, but the great thing about country fans is that when I say ’fans,’ I don’t even mean mine. You guys are loyal to everyone in this room.” Then in another must-cry move, he starts in on thanking his grandfather. “Tonight is, for me, about him. This is a man who loved Buck Owens, and he loved Johnny Cash,” he said through his tears. “He said, ’I want you to learn to play the guitar, and this is gonna get you through lonely times, and you’ll never be alone with this. I don’t think he ever thought it would draw 20,000 people. I think about him tonight. He died in 1987,” he choked out. And earlier in the night, when Liddell took the stage to give thanks, he said, “Years ago, Miranda called me and asked me to produce her first record. And I told her I didn’t think that would be a very good career move, and she said if I didn’t, her dad would probably kick my … ,” he said with a lump in his throat. He also said, “I want to thank my late father who set a really high mark.” Liddell’s whole speech was extra moving to me because I’d run into him on Monday night and gave him advance congratulations on what I was sure would be a big night for him. “You know, though, there are people who’ve had this many CMA nominations and still gone home empty-handed,” he told me. So he was humble, but hopeful. I’m glad the hopeful trumped the humble this time around.