Kenny Chesney, Brett James Feted for Their No. 1, “Reality”

Song Came From Same Session That Yielded "Out Last Night"

As realities go, it wasn’t a bad one when ASCAP and BMI pooled their resources Thursday (April 5) to celebrate Kenny Chesney’s latest No. 1 single, “Reality,” at Nashville’s assiduously hip Sambuca restaurant.

Chesney, a BMI member, co-wrote the chart-topper with Brett James, who’s affiliated with ASCAP.

“Reality” is Chesney’s 23rd No. 1 as an artist.

The setting was several cultural zones away from the sunny Caribbean shore on which the song was crafted.

Inside Sambuca’s second-story Sky Room, it was all sectional sofas, cube-shaped coffee tables lit from within and black-clad waiters threading through the crowd with trays of appetizers that looked like Incan sculptures.

Outside, there was a cool, steady drizzle, nicely timed to foul up the afternoon traffic that inched along that section of 12th Avenue South called “The Gulch,” a yuppie paradise of towering condos, specialty shops and valet parking stands.

At one point, the ceremony was nearly drowned out by the frustrated moan of a fire engine creeping by below.

“Your music is the soundtrack of our lives,” BMI’s Clay Bradley told Chesney, who, as usual, had slipped into the room and onto the stage without fanfare.

“I read where ’You and Tequila’ is played in yoga classes everywhere,” Bradley continued. In appreciation of this musical saturation, he presented Chesney a new guitar — symbolic of his first No. 1 as a songwriter since becoming a BMI writer — and a trophy cup.

ASCAP’s Mike Sistad told the gathering “Reality” is James’ 13th No. 1 single and that he has had more than 300 songs recorded on albums that have sold a total of 100 million copies.

As he has done before, Chesney’s publisher, Troy Tomlinson, complained that his biggest problem with the singer is convincing him to record his own songs.

“It takes a miracle,” he lamented.

Ron Cox of Avenue Bank which co-sponsors BMI’s No. 1 parties, announced the bank has made a contribution to Chesney’s preferred charity, Plan!t Now.

James was also rapturous in his praise of Chesney.

“He is one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever been around,” he said. “He also treats his people better than anyone I know.”

James noted that he and Chesney wrote “Reality” the same afternoon they composed their 2009 No. 1, “Out Last Night.”

“Thank you, everybody,” Chesney responded, “for giving us a great reality.”

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