Industry Salutes Songwriters of Justin Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”

ASCAP, BMI Honor Brett Jones, Dallas Davidson and Rob Hatch

Celebrants packed the central hallway of the Country Music Association building in Nashville Monday afternoon (Sept. 26) to honor Brett Jones, Dallas Davidson and Rob Hatch for writing Justin Moore’s recent No. 1 hit, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

Moore was also front and center to bask in the communal congratulations.

The party was co-sponsored by BMI, the performance rights organization with which Davidson and Hatch are affiliated, and its counterpart, ASCAP, of which Jones is a member.

“You’re looking at a man who, before our eyes, is becoming one of the most successful songwriters in our genre,” said BMI’s Jody Williams in his commendation of Davidson. “You can’t get in your car and drive 200 yards without hearing a Dallas Davidson song.”

Noting that “Heaven” is Davidson’s eighth No. 1 single and Moore’s second, Williams pointed out that five songs currently on the Billboard country chart are ones Davidson co-wrote: Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night,” Joe Nichols“Take It Off,” Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” Montgomery Gentry’s “Where I Come From” and Craig Morgan’s “This Ole Boy.”

“Heaven” is Hatch’s first chart-topper.

“I’ve been telling my wife I was No. 1 since I met her,” he said after he collected his trophies. “Now I have the proof.”

Rhett Akins, one of Davidson’s friends and frequent co-writers, recorded the song five years ago, but it met with small success.

It did, however, catch the ear of Moore’s producer, Jeremy Stover. Around Christmas of 2009, Jones said, Stover called him to ask if the song was still available. Jones assured him it was. So Stover told Moore to check out Akin’s version of the song on the Internet.

“Within two days we said, ’We’re cutting it,'” Stover recalled.

“Songs are such treasures — and this one in particular,” said Scott Borchetta, head of Moore’s record label, the Valory Music Co. He said that after hearing the music Moore and Stover turned in for their current album, he asked them to find and record one more song that would capture “that magic in a bottle.”

That’s when they picked “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

“This just proves it’s all about songs,” said Moore, who came to the stage holding his 19-month-old daughter, Ella, in his arms. “I told Rhett a few months ago, ’Man, I’m glad it wasn’t a hit [for you].'”

ASCAP’s LeAnn Phelan recounted Jones’ history as a songwriter, observing he got his first song cut in 1993 by Confederate Railroad. Three years later, Neal McCoy scored a No. 3 with “You Gotta Love That,” which Jones co-wrote with Jess Brown.

More recently, he, Davidson and Billy Currington co-wrote Currington’s 2010 hit single, “That’s How Country Boys Roll.”

Jones told the crowd he first met Davidson in 2004 when he was going through a divorce and Davidson was “living in his truck.”

Davidson praised Moore as an artist, saying, “You really did give [the song] a new set of wings.”

After that, he whipped out a $100 bill and held it aloft.

“I’m giving this to Rhett Akins for singing the demo,” he joked.

View photos from the No. 1 party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to