Among the more pleasant burdens of being a music superstar is finding time to celebrate suitably all the No. 1 singles that accumulate. Luke Bryan solved that problem nicely Thursday (June 5) by gathering together the six writers of his last four hits for one big “meet-the-press-and-drink-some-wine” blowout.
The joint press conference and party was held in Nashville’s Bridge Building, which sits on the lip of the Cumberland River directly across from downtown Music City.
Bryan looked bright-eyed and rested from the rigors of the previous night’s 2014 CMT Music Awards , during which he won the CMT performance of the year honor (with Lionel Richie) and the collaborative video of the year prize (with Florida Georgia Line) for “This Is How We Roll.”
Through the window in front of which Bryan and the songwriters sat, one could witness some of the boiling activity that marked opening day of the CMA Music Festival.
The No. 1 songs and their writers being feted were “Crash My Party” (Rodney Clawson, Ashley Gorley), “That’s My Kind of Night” (Gorley, Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano), “Drink a Beer” (Jim Beavers, Chris Stapleton) and “Play It Again” (Gorley, Davidson).
Bryan and the songwriters sat in an arc of wooden folding chairs on an improvised stage and passed a microphone back and forth to answer the reporters’ questions.
“Thank you all for coming,” said Bryan. “It was a crazy night last night for me.”
He apologized for letting the No. 1 celebrations pile up on him because doing so lessened the spotlight on individual songwriters.
“I do regret having to do it that way,” he said. However, he was quick to add, “It’s amazing to get a No. 1 party with four No. 1 songs.”
A reporter asked for some background from Bryan and the writers on what went into writing and selecting “Drink a Beer,” which, despite its apparently festive title, is a rueful rumination on death.
Stapleton recalled Beavers bringing him the chorus of the song.
“It could have been a party song (at that point),” Beavers said. “We took a couple of wrong roads trying to make it humorous.”
“When you have a song like ’Drink a Beer’ and you’ve got Stapleton singing it, you can get lost in the magic,” Bryan said. “It’s one of the coolest sad songs I’ve ever heard.”
He called Stapleton “the best singer on planet Earth.”
The song makes “an amazing connection [with the audience] every night,” Bryan said.
Asked about what it’s like to be playing stadiums, Bryan conceded it was a heady feeling.
“It was certainly a dream of mine,” he said.
He pointed out the importance of songwriters, such as those surrounding him, in helping him gain stadium eminence.
He said his duty to songwriters is “to elevate the song — but not mess it up.”
Bryan announced his record company will release “Roller Coaster” in July as the fifth single from his Crash My Party album.
“Roller Coaster” was written by Bryan’s friend and former merchandise salesman Cole Swindell and Swindell’s producer, Michael Carter. Bryan said he was so moved by the song when he heard the demo, he immediately met with his producer, Jeff Stevens, and both agreed he should cut it.
Bryan will play Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sept. 14, two days after playing Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, and another reporter wanted to know how he felt about performing his rural-tinged music in these famously urban centers.
“It’s just wild,” he said. But he observed there is really no reason why his music shouldn’t be acceptable on the East and West Coasts as it is in “the flyover states.”
“Have you told them about the new stage — the one with guard rails on it?” asked Davidson, who sat next to Bryan.
Davidson was razzing Bryan about his recent tumble from a stage in North Carolina — his second one so far.
“Where’s your head right now?” a reporter inquired, after citing a string of Bryan’s head-turning successes.
“It’s been an amazing ride for me,” Bryan replied. “Three years ago, I wouldn’t have been prepared to enjoy it.”
He said that while he wants to continue building his career, he’s also trying to prepare himself mentally against the time his star descends.
Both Bryan and Davidson took issue with a reporter’s suggestion that the clearly hedonistic lyrics of “That’s My Kind of Night” were controversial.
“Where Luke and I grew up, we did everything in that song,” Davidson replied.
“We wanted to do something high-energy, something we loved,” Gorley added.
Always the generous and appreciative host, Bryan gestured toward his fellow writers and said, “All these guys you have to marvel at.”