Brantley Gilbert Celebrates No. 1 Success of “Country Must Be Country Wide”

Co-Writers Colt Ford, Mike Dekle Honored at Nashville Party

Nashville’s duplicitous weather was sliding from balmy to arctic within the span of minutes late Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 17) as friends and associates gathered at the Cabana restaurant near Music Row to celebrate Brantley Gilbert’s “Country Must Be Country Wide,” his first No. 1 as an artist.

Also in the spotlight were Colt Ford and Mike Dekle, who co-wrote the song with Gilbert. It was Gilbert’s second Billboard No. 1 as a songwriter, the first being “Dirt Road Anthem” for Jason Aldean.

Gilbert also wrote Aldean’s “My Kinda Party,” which went to No. 2 in Billboard.

The celebration was co-sponsored by the performance rights organizations BMI and ASCAP. Gilbert and Ford are BMI members. Dekle is affiliated with ASCAP.

“When I hear [’Country Must Be Country Wide’], I get the Music City measles,” BMI’s Clay Bradley told the crowd. “That’s when the hair stands up on the back of your neck.”

Bradley also noted that after the party was over, Gilbert would embark on a tour with headliner Eric Church.

ASCAP’s Mark Driskill introduced Dekle, pointing out that the veteran songwriter scored his first hit in 1982 when Kenny Rogers took his “Scarlet Fever” to No. 5.

Singled out for praise as well was Dann Huff, who produced Brantley’s chart-topper.

Scott Borchetta, head of the Valory Music Co., Gilbert’s label, told of how he had been so impressed by seeing Gilbert perform that he waited in the cold to meet with him and eventually talk him into signing with Valory.

Dekle spoke at length to the partygoers.

“Songwriting to me has always been fun,” he said. On a more serious note he added, “My children, my marriage and Kenny Rogers changed my life.”

He said Rogers had recorded six of his songs.

Dekle applauded publisher David Conrad for having had the courtesy and patience to listen to his songs when he first came to Nashville, even though he was not initially impressed by what he heard.

Turning to his much younger co-writers, Dekle said, “I owe these guys so much for making me realign my thinking process.”

Dekle told Huff that when he heard the version of “Country Must Be Country Wide” he had produced on Gilbert, “I cried like you hit me with a trace chain.”

(For those unacquainted with horse-powered farming, a trace chain is part of the harness that hitches a horse to a plow or other implement being pulled.)

Ford, who spoke only briefly, broke into tears as he described the joy of working with his fellow writers and seeing their efforts succeed.

Gilbert applauded his touring band, which also played on his album.

“I’ve got the best band in the world,” he declared.

This was Nashville’s first No. 1 party of the new year.

View photos from the party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to