Risking PTSD — Party Time Stress Disorder — the masters and minions of Music Row shuffled into the BMI building in Nashville late Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 22) to pay tribute to “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.”
Recorded by Brantley Gilbert and co-written by Gilbert and Jim McCormick, the song was the third No. 1 to be honored with a Nashville celebration within the span of three days.
The party was held on BMI’s sunny sixth-floor balcony, overlooking downtown. Guests emerging from the elevator were greeted by uniformed waiters holding out silver trays of cookies.
Across the balcony from the stage — which stood mercifully in the shade — an S-shaped table bore such delicacies as mixed cheeses, watermelon pops and grilled chicken skewers with blackberry barbecue sauce.
Three bartenders kept busy serving wine, beer and water as other waiters circulated through the crowd with trays of mini-sandwiches stuffed with tomatoes, pimento cheese or barbecue.
About a half-hour into the party, BMI’s Clay Bradley strode onto the stage to introduce the honorees. He noted it was just under a year ago that Gilbert stood on the same stage to be applauded for co-writing (with Colt Ford) the Jason Aldean hit, “Dirt Road Anthem.”
To date, Bradley continued, Gilbert has sold more than 1.3 million downloads. “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” is Gilbert’s fourth No. 1 as a songwriter and his second as an artist.
Citing the singer’s burgeoning “BG Nation” fan base, Bradley asserted, “Brantley is leading a bona fide movement — one day and one show at a time.”
Bradley next called McCormick up, saying, “He came to Nashville with a master’s degree in creative writing and a honky-tonk degree in playing loud music.”
This being McCormick’s first No. 1 song, BMI recognized the achievement by awarding him an acoustic guitar, in addition to the standard trophy cup.
At Bradley’s invitation, Gilbert’s producer, Dann Huff, came forward to accept the crowd’s congratulations.
“Dann always sets the standard of what songs should sound like on the radio,” Bradley said.
“This thing fell into my lap, I’ve got to be honest,” Huff explained. He said Gilbert’s label chief, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, called and asked him to tweak the music on an album Gilbert had already recorded. Ultimately, Huff added tracks to the album under Borchetta’s direction.
“Brantley is definitely one of the most exciting, vibrant artists I’ve heard in the last decade,” Huff said. “Scott, thank you for the call.”
Before leaving the stage, Huff returned to the microphone to point out that Gilbert records with his road band rather than relying on studio musicians, as is the common practice.
Borchetta said he first saw Gilbert perform in Kentucky as an opening act for Josh Turner. (Gilbert will begin headlining his own tours this fall.)
When Borchetta noticed the crowd at the concert was singing the words to Gilbert’s songs — even though Gilbert had never played in that region before — he concluded that the young performer was something special and signed him to a recording contract with Big Machine’s Valory Music Co. imprint.
Following the signing, Borchetta decided to add some music to the existing album and asked Gilbert’s publisher, Warner Chappell Music, to send him the full catalog of Gilbert’s songs.
The catalog, Borchetta said, had 88 songs in it and that, as he listened to them one after another, he found himself thinking after each one, “That’s good.”
“You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” was one of the songs he picked to complete the album.
“Not since Taylor Swift,” Borchetta proclaimed, “had I received a catalog in which all the songs were at least good and many great.”
Borchetta then reported Gilbert has now accumulated more than 1 million friends on Facebook, quintupling the number he had when he joined the label.
In recognition of this social networking success, a label representative presented him a specially-designed plaque.
“I don’t think I could be more blessed than I am right now,” Gilbert told the onlookers as the celebration neared its end. “I’m more excited for [Jim] than I am for myself.”
He said he hadn’t met McCormick before they came together to write. At that point, Gilbert explained, neither had a firm song idea to start on. So the two simply began talking.
Gilbert was then having a romantic crisis, and McCormick was a good listener.
“He had me opening up like a 12-year-old,” Gilbert recalled with a grin.
When the time came for his remarks, McCormick walked to the speaker’s stand and unfolded some papers he’d been carrying in his pocket.
“You got notes?” Gilbert asked incredulously.
Indeed he did — notes with dozens of names on them, each of which he read out slowly, pausing now and again to explain why this person or that was special in his memory.
“I’m nervous,” he admitted. Then, composing himself, he added, “It’s cool. This is authentic.”View photos from Brantley Gilbert’s party.