Guests walked in through an archway of pink and black balloons at Nashville’s Avenue performance space Monday afternoon (June 30) to celebrate the success of Miranda Lambert’s recent single, “Automatic.”
More specifically, the crowd was there to honor the three writers of the song — Lambert herself, Natalie Hemby and Nicolle Galyon.
Since the lyrics of “Automatic” are about the joys of simpler times, the décor, costumes and background music were all reminiscent of the 1950s.
The three songwriters were dressed in billowy period “Easter dresses” (as referenced in the song) and wore wrist corsages.
Some of the male guests sported varsity jackets and tight, cuffed blue jeans. Others wore sport coats, white shirts and skinny ties.
In furtherance of the theme, there was a hot dog stand on one side of the room and a hamburger and French fries table on the other.
The event was sponsored by BMI, the performance rights organization to which the three songwriters belong.
“Can I get everyone’s attention, please?” asked BMI’s Jody Williams when it came time to hand out awards. “I’m vice principal Williams … and I want to welcome everyone to Miranda Lambert’s sock hop.”
Williams called Lambert’s songwriting “unafraid, vulnerable and musically compelling.”
Hemby, he continued, “is as gifted a singer as she is a songwriter” and brings a “unique perspective” to everything she writes. He further noted that Hemby co-wrote seven songs on Lambert’s new and best-selling album, Platinum.
He presented her an acoustic guitar, which is BMI’s traditional gift to songwriters who’ve just broken into the No. 1 circle.
Troy Tomlinson, president and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville, Lambert’s publishing company, reminded her that this day was also her 12th anniversary of signing with the company.
He presented her a 1955 RCA record player, complete with a matching carrying case and several 45 rpm records of songs by Sony writers gleaned from the company’s vaults.
Gary Overton, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Nashville, Lambert’s record label, told the crowd Lambert is the only artist ever to have her first five albums debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s country chart and that Platinum had debuted at the top of Billboard’s all-genres chart as well.
Moreover, Overton added, despite a general slump in record sales across the board, Platinum sold 30 percent more copies during its initial release than had Lambert’s previous album.
Hemby stepped forward to thank the team behind “Automatic” and to praise Lambert.
“You are a trailblazer, and you have set the bar really high,” she said.
Galyon recalled standing in the back of the room in 2010 when Lambert and Hemby received awards for co-writing Lambert’s “White Liar.”
“I thought to myself, ’Those girls have it all,'” she said. “And now I’m one of those girls.” Her voice cracked as she recounted the event.
She said she had worked as a personal assistant for talent booker Greg Oswald when she first came to Nashville.
“I learned from him that talent alone gets you nothing in this town,” she said.
She thanked her husband and fellow songwriter, the much-awarded Rodney Clawson, for encouraging her and keeping her productive as a composer.
“He taught me to write songs like a farmer (planting seeds),” she said. “And when I had a pity party for myself, he did not attend.”
Turning to Lambert, she said, “She’s so comfortable in herself that she can wholeheartedly be a fan of other people.”
Galyon reserved her most emotional praise for her parents, who sat in the audience — for her father who poured concrete to support the family and her mother who took her to and from piano lessons.
“Any greatness I get,” she said, “is simply a byproduct of their sacrifice.”
Lambert spoke last, admitting to the crowd she doesn’t relish public speaking.
“When we wrote this song, we had a gut feeling about it,” she said. In conjuring the joys they would enumerate in “Automatic,” she said, “We were all little girls (again).”