Well-wishers from all over Music Row joined Keith Urban Monday afternoon (Aug. 22) at Jack White’s Third Man Records complex in Nashville to toast Ross Copperman and Jon Nite, the writers of Urban’s recent No. 1 single, “Break on Me.”
Celebrants stood shoulder to shoulder in a room that appeared to have been decorated by Ted Nugent, in that there were various animal heads (either real or simulated) mounted high on the walls, including an obviously fake elephant head, tusks and all, that hung over the bar.
As traditional in these celebrations, Urban performed his award-winning song — only this time he did it to start the proceedings rather than conclude them. The songwriters and the song’s producer, Nathan Chapman, served as Urban’s backup band.
The party was co-sponsored by the performance rights organizations BMI (of which Copperman and Urban are members) and ASCAP (Nite’s home base).
“Another week another No. 1 single,” said BMI’s Leslie Roberts, alluding to Copperman’s seemingly endless string of hits, both as a songwriter and producer.
She counted “Break On Me” as Copperman’s 10th No. 1 song and noted that he currently has seven songwriting credits on Billboard’s country airplay chart.
Roberts also pointed out that “Break on Me,” which is the second single from his Ripcord album, is Urban’s 20th No. 1. Praising Urban for his respect for songwriters, she said he never uses a song title as an album title because he doesn’t want to “leave the other songs out.”
ASCAP’s Beth Brinker spoke on Nite’s behalf. She said that since moving to Nashville from San Antonio, Texas, when he was 18, Nite has racked up six No. 1’s, including the Urban-Miranda Lambert chart-topper, “We Were Us.”
“ [“Break on Me”], in a lot of ways, is a publisher’s dream,” said
Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s Josh Van Valkenburg described “Break on Me” as “a publisher’s dream.” He explained that within two weeks of getting the song in demo form, Urban had cut it, and that it was being played on the radio two months after that.
Of Copperman and Nite, Van Valkenburg said, “They take an idea that’s special to them and make it special for all of us.”
Royce Risser, head of promotion for Urban’s record label, reminded the audience that “Break on Me” stayed at No. 1 for two weeks. He also observed that the song was Urban’s 36th consecutive Top 10, “the most for any country artist ever.”
“It was a hit song before it was ever recorded because it hit me right here,” said Chapman, touching his chest.
“I always looked at our [songwriting] sessions as therapy sessions,” Copperman confessed.
Alluding to the sentimental aspects of “Break on Me,” Nite jokingly referred to it as a “sissy song” and thanked Urban for making it “not sissy.”
“It’s not a sissy song, guys,” Urban protested. Then he quipped, “From bro country to sissy country.”
Urban said he was drawn to the song because “I knew it had come from a real place. … I wanted to do it well because I’ve been on both sides [the consoler and the consoled] of the song.”
He commended Chapman for the high standards he sets for songs he produces, noting, “He only does songs that he feels.”
Always eager to credit the musicians who play on his sessions, Urban reserved his highest praise for ace bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who, he noted, came up with the “Break on Me” intro.