Jason Aldean Marks Two No. 1 Singles With Two Celebrations

ASCAP and BMI Gatherings Spotlight the Songs' Writers

Three days after his triumphant sell-out show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Jason Aldean took time Tuesday afternoon (March 5) to celebrate his two latest No. 1 singles at two separate parties.

The first revel — honoring the writers of “Take a Little Ride,” Aldean’s hit from last fall — was held at the Nashville headquarters of BMI, while the second — which saluted the writers of “The Only Way I Know” — took place at the ASCAP building just across the street from BMI.

ASCAP and BMI are performance rights organizations that collect royalties for songwriters and music publishers from radio airplay and other public performances of their songs.

After guests had rushed in out of the cold wet wind and made their way through the buffet line, BMI’s Clay Bradley began the first awards presentations by summoning “Take a Little Ride” writers Jim McCormick, Dylan Altman and Rodney Clawson to the stage.

Aldean, wearing glasses and a baseball cap pulled low, and producer Michael Knox then came forward to join them.

“Take a Little Ride,” Bradley observed, is Altman’s third No. 1, McCormick’s second and Clawson’s fifth.

The song was Aldean’s 10th chart-topper.

Watching the proceedings from the rear of the crowd were Florida Georgia Line ‘s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.

After congratulating the writers, publisher Craig Wiseman described Knox as “the man that makes Jason Aldean sound so damn good on the radio.” Of the Aldean-Knox team, he added, “You guys make records that make people get speeding tickets.”

Jon Loba, senior vice president of Broken Bow Records, Aldean’s label, noted it had taken only 11 weeks from the time “Take a Little Ride” debuted on the charts for it to reach No. 1, a feat that made it the artist’s fastest rising single to date.

Although all three writers took the microphone to thank their friends, family and business supporters, Altman seemed especially ecstatic over his achievement.

“I’ll take No. 1 with David Duke and Joseph Goebbels,” he joked. And when he got no discernible crowd response from name-dropping these two notorious anti-Semites, he added, “I’m Jewish.”

Then addressing everyone who had anything at all to do with the song’s success, Altman continued, “My child thanks you, Carmax thanks you, the Italian Cheese Club of the Month thanks you, and there’s a lady I can’t name who also thanks you. But she’s very grateful.”

Aldean presented Broken Bow owner Benny Brown with a photo from his Madison Square Garden performance.

Songwriters Ben Hayslip and David Lee Murphy took the spotlight at the ASCAP party that began virtually as soon as the BMI festivities ended.

Hayslip is ASCAP’s reigning songwriter of the year (for the second year) and the winner of the Country Music Association’s Triple Play honor for having had three No. 1 songs within a 12-month period.

Murphy co-wrote Aldean’s 2009 hit, “Big Green Tractor.” “The Only Way I Know” is his eighth No. 1.

Before focusing his attention on songwriting, ASCAP’s Ryan Beuschel pointed out that Murphy distinguished himself as a recording artist via such hits as “Dust on the Bottle” and “Party Crowd.”

Aldean, Knox and Hayslip all said they had been Murphy admirers since early in their careers.

“The first time I wrote with him,” Hayslip recalled, “I didn’t even open my mouth for an hour.”

Murphy told the crowd he and Hayslip had Aldean in mind when they wrote the song.

“I’ve got a whole catalog of songs he didn’t cut,” Hayslip remarked later, eliciting a grin from Aldean who stood beside him.

Publisher Rusty Gaston, who represents Hayslip’s catalog, was eloquent in his praise of the two songwriters and their willingness to risk everything for their art.

“They’re all making a living [doing something] that somebody told them, ‘This might not work out,’” he said.

To Aldean and Knox, he added, “You guys have had a hard time, but you’ve built an empire.”

Gaston quoted from the up-by-the-bootstraps song being celebrated, noting the lyrics were applicable to all involved: “That old red dirt the first thing you learn/You don’t get nothing that you don’t earn/Humble pride that I grew up on/You find out just how bad you want it.”

Aldean’s recording of the song also featured vocals by Luke Bryan and Eric Church .

“There’s three of us on the record, and you can see I’m the only one who’s here today,” Aldean said in mock censure.

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