Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 17) tested the stamina of the most hardened Music Row partygoers.
First came the Uber-rush to Nashville’s tony new Thompson Hotel to toast Morgan Wallen and the writers of his first No. 1 single, “Up Down.” Then, after the merry-makers had downed a few there, it was off to the ASCAP building to lift a congratulatory glass or two to Darius Rucker and the co-writers of his latest hit, “For the First Time.”
The Wallen affair was held on the Thompson’s elegant rooftop overlooking much of the city’s recent development on what not too long ago was a weed-infested rail yard.
“Up Down” was not only Wallen’s first No. 1. It was also the first for writers CJ Solar, Brad Clawson and Michael Hardy, although Hardy has just scored his second chart-topper as a co-writer of Florida Georgia Line’s “Simple.” FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley back Wallen on his debut song.
Representatives from ASCAP and BMI, the performance rights organizations that sponsored the Wallen party, acquainted the crowd with the young songwriters’ already imposing credentials. Solar, who now records for Sea Gayle Records, was one of Rolling Stone “New Artists You Need to Know.” Clawson is the son of multiple award-winning songwriter, Rodney Clawson.
Standing on the stage with the writers as they were singled out for praise was Wallen’s producer, Joey Moi, and Hubbard. Hubbard told the crowd that Kelley was in Florida helping with the post-Hurricane Michael cleanup.
“We knew [‘Up Down’] was a hit when we first heard it,” Hubbard asserted.
Wallen, who came to Nashville four years ago, praised his label, Big Loud Records, for taking a chance and believing in “my redneck ass.”
“It’s just crazy where my life has gone these last few years,” Wallen added.
It took a while for the celebrants to move from the Thompson to the ASCAP building, but by 4:30 p. m., they had pretty much filled the reception hall and were swirling around the buffet table.
ASCAP’s Mike Sistad called the crowd to order and summoned Rucker and his co-writers, Scooter Carusoe and Derek George to the stage, along with Rucker’s producer, Ross Copperman.
Apart from “For the First Time,” Carusoe’s string of hits include Kenny Chesney’s “Better as a Memory” and “Anything But Mine,” Brett Eldredge’s “Wanna Be That Song” and “Mean to Me” and Chris Janson’s “Drunk Girl.”
As a producer, Sistad noted, George has racked up eight Top 10 hits in the past six years and has had three No. 1 singles as a writer. Rucker has taken nine singles to the top of the country charts, three of which he co-wrote.
“This whole ride [as a single act] has been crazy,” said Rucker, who first gained prominence as the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish. He turned 52 in May and told the crowd that Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum had once called him to speculate, “You may be the oldest guy in country music.”
Don’t believe it.