Randy Houser Savors His First No. 1 With Songwriters at His Side

Wendell Mobley, Vicky McGehee, Neil Thrasher Share Spotlight

Flanked by the three songwriters who concocted it, Randy Houser celebrated his first No. 1 single — “How Country Feels” — Monday afternoon (March 11) at the Honky Tonk Central nightclub in downtown Nashville.

The song’s writers are Wendell Mobley and Vicky McGehee, represented by BMI, and Neil Thrasher, affiliated with ASCAP. BMI and ASCAP are the performance rights organizations that staged the celebration.

It was a particularly sweet occasion for Houser, who has been releasing singles since 2008 when he debuted with “Anything Goes” and followed it the next year with “Boots On,” the latter of which peaked at No. 2.

Prior to his emergence as an artist, Houser was best known around Nashville as the co-writer of Trace Adkins ’ 2005 novelty hit, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”

BMI’s Bradley Collins and ASCAP’s Ryan Beuschel co-hosted the party. Collins pointed out that “How Country Feels” was McGehee’s third No. 1 single and that she was BMI’s songwriter of the year in 2005.

For Mobley, Collins continued, this was his eighth No. 1.

Beuschel noted the song was also Thrasher’s eighth No. 1 and that Thrasher has eight cuts on Jason Aldean ’s current album and four on Houser’s.

“How Country Feels” is the first single from Houser’s album of the same name on Stoney Creek Records.

Also stepping up to be honored was Houser’s producer, Derek George.

Rick Shedd, senior vice president and general manager of Broken Bow Label Group — Stoney Creek’s parent company — described “How Country Feels” as “a laid-back country song that only briefly mentions a pickup truck.”

Broken Bow owner Benny Brown praised Houser as being one of the “easiest” artists he’s ever worked with and one of the best vocalists in Nashville.

“In about 20 weeks,” Brown promised the throng of partygoers, “you’re going to be back here for another No. 1.” He was referring to Houser’s current single, “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight,” which is just starting its trek up the country airplay chart.

Also alluding to Houser’s powerful singing voice, Shedd remarked that “he puts the fear of God into every artist he opens for.”

McGehee spoke briefly in praise of Houser’s treatment of her song but complained puckishly that he had changed one word in the original. Asked later what that one-word change was, she said he had changed “mud between my toes” to “mud betwixt my toes.”

Thrasher lauded Houser as “a country singer’s country singer.”

George, a fellow Mississippian and longtime friend of Houser, said “We’ve been waiting about 12 years to make this record.”

Houser seemed emotionally swept away by the moment as he strove to recall and thank everyone involved in the song’s success.
“I wanted to make this album with somebody who would bleed on the record,” he said to George, clearly indicating that he had found such a champion.

He said he signed with Stoney Creek Records because the company recognized “you had feelings, you had art. … I felt very, very secure when I went over there.”

He commended his manager, Nick Hartley, for sticking with him when he could have abandoned him for “some hot little new artist.”

“Even when I don’t want to do this [publicity] crap, you all take care of me,” he said to his publicist.

To the songwriters, he concluded, “This song could have probably been No. 1 with any artist.”

Gazing out over a crowd so large that it spilled out onto the third floor balcony, Houser beamed and said, “I never got to have a party for a No. 2.”

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 CMT.com.