With quickened steps and upturned collars, Music Row folk poured through the doors of the South bar in Nashville on a chilly, overcast Tuesday afternoon (Dec. 6) to toast the writers of Billy Currington’s 10th No. 1 single, “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To.”
Currington co-wrote the hit with Cary Barlowe and Shy Turner. Dann Huff produced. All four men were on hand to drink in the crowd’s applause.
The party was jointly sponsored by the three major performance rights organizations — ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
ASCAP’s Beth Brinker brought the honorees to the stage, noting with a bit of overstatement that the song in question was Huff’s “50 millionth No. 1.” Close. Huff has produced hits for Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, Lonestar, Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, Maddie & Tae and legions of others.
She also pointed out the Huff was recently declared the Country Music Association’s musician of the year. Both Currington and Huff are ASCAP members.
Speaking for BMI, Josh Tomlinson sketched in Carter’s illustrious work outside the country music format, including his having written for or produced such artists as Nelly, Rob Thomas, Jamie Foxx and Megan Trainor.
Within the country confines, Tomlinson continued, Carter had worked with Sugarland and Faith Hill, among others. In addition, he wrote and recorded the rap hit “Bring It Back.”
“It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” is Carter’s first country No. 1, although “Stuck Like Glue,” which he cowrote for Sugarland, went to No. 2.
Shannan Hatch spoke for SESAC, Barlowe’s home turf. She announced that “It Don’t Hurt” was Barlowe’s fourth No. 1, his previous toppers having been Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey,” Dustin Lynch’s “Where It’s At” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze.”
Alluding to producing the winning single, Huff observed, “It’s an easy job when you have a singer like Billy doing this. … What a gift of interpretation he has.”
“The coolest thing about this song,” said Barlowe, “is that we weren’t scheduled to write it.” He said he and Carter had finished their songwriting session when Currington just happened to drop by. Before long, all three writers were at their guitars, and the song emerged.
“I feel like this song fell out of the sky,” Barlowe said.
Carter said he was dazzled by Currington. “I think his voice is insane—so soulful.”
For his part, Currington was suitably humble. “Obviously, I got in the room with the two happiest guys. … It was just, ‘Say what you want. No rules.’”