For Bryan, the chart topper at hand was “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” which he co-wrote with his producer, Jeff Stevens. Young’s award winner was “Voices,” a joint composition with Craig Wiseman and Chris Tompkins.
Bryan’s party was at BMI, Young’s at ASCAP.
BMI’s Clay Bradley welcomed the celebrants by citing Bryan and Stevens’ individual chart achievements. “Someone Else Calling You Baby” is Bryan’s second No. 1 single from his current album, Doin’ My Thing. His first was “Rain Is a Good Thing.” Before that, his “Do I,” co-written with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, reached No. 2 in Billboard.
For Stevens, a former recording artist for Atlantic Records, it was his sixth No. 1, including the George Strait hits “Carrying Your Love With Me” and “Carried Away.” However, Bradley noted that “Someone Else” was Stevens’ first No. 1 as both a publisher and producer.
Bradley joked that he had recently visited Bryan’s website and discovered he had “some rabid fans — sorority girls, when I last checked.”
Mike Dungan, the head of Capitol Records Nashville, Bryan’s label, presented each of the two writers the label’s award for No. 1 songs, a sharp-pointed trophy he called “the Impaler.”
“We love it when the writer is also the producer,” he told Stevens. “It saves us from buying an extra one. I think they cost $80 apiece. We’ll put that [savings] into marketing.”
Ron Cox, senior vice president for Avenue Bank, which now co-sponsors BMI’s No. 1 country parties, told the crowd the bank will honor Bryan and Stevens by making a contribution in their names to Shriners Hospital for Children.
“It’s still an amazing experience to get to stand up here,” said Bryan, who first stood in the No. 1 spotlight in 2007 as co-writer of the Billy Currington hit, “Good Directions.” He recalled it was six years ago he and Stevens began writing together. Their first joint effort, he said, was “Baby’s on the Way.”
Since those early days, he said he’d gained a bit of recognition on hard-to-crack Music Row.
“There are a few offices I can walk into,” he said modestly, “and not be tased or stun-gunned.”
Bryan praised his wife for taking care of their children while he lives out his dream.
“It’s about a hundred times harder than being out on the road,” he said, a chore he likened to “a camping trip every weekend.”
ASCAP’s Nashville chief, Tim DuBois, led the cheers for Young, Wiseman and Tompkins, pointing out that “Voices” is Young’s third Billboard No. 1 (the previous two being “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and “The Man I Want to Be” ).
As DuBois pointed out, Wiseman has scored 19 No. 1 singles, been named the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s songwriter of the decade and is a multiple winner of ASCAP’s song of the year trophy.
“Voices” has a curious history. When it was first released, it climbed to only No. 37 in Billboard. But the song’s advocates at RCA, Young’s label, were so sure of its hit potential, they rereleased it and proceeded to push it to the top.
The last time there was a similar chart situation was in 1985-86 when Randy Travis’ “On the Other Hand” was rescued from an early grave. It initially peaked at No. 67 but was revived to become Travis’ first No. 1.
“Patience and belief is something that’s exceedingly rare in music,” Young said. “I’m probably one of the luckiest artists on this planet.”
He kidded about his co-writers being used to many successes, saying, “I know they’ve written a number of other hits, but I’m most excited about this one.”
Tomkins praised Young for being easy to work with. “Some writers come in — I’m not going to point fingers — and they’re like artists. Chris comes in, and he’s like a songwriter.”
Wiseman, who’s known for giving gag awards to writers and artists who’ve helped make him richer, didn’t disappoint this time. He asked Young to sing the verse in “Voices” about his grandfather’s advice, which goes, “You can have a few, but don’t ever cross that line.”
Looking a bit puzzled, Young complied, at which point Wiseman handed him a bottle of Patron tequila with “that line” clearly marked on the side.
“This is a sweet, sweet No. 1,” Wiseman beamed.