To see pictures from Kenny Chesney's No. 1 party, visit his artist page.
Looking more street waif than superstar, Kenny Chesney showed up dutifully at two parties Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 20) to celebrate Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, the writers of his marathon No. 1 single, "There Goes My Life." ASCAP, a performance rights society, honored Thrasher, while BMI, its chief competitor, toasted Mobley.
"There Goes My Life" held the top spot on the Billboard country singles chart for seven weeks. Chesney previously enjoyed a seven-week No. 1 with "The Good Stuff."
A world apart from the strutting, muscled, take-charge guy fans see on stage, Chesney seemed almost timid at the parties, moving unobtrusively by himself around the edges of the crowd until he was stopped by a well-wisher or summoned into the spotlight. His costume -- a gray knit cap pulled down tightly over his ears, baggy khaki pants, pale blue T-shirt and brown work shoes -- reinforced his inclination to blend in. When he spoke to congratulate the writers, his remarks were brief but clearly heartfelt.
It was the first No. 1 song for Thrasher, who once sang in the short-lived Asylum Records duo, Thrasher Shiver. "I didn't think my first No. 1 would be as a writer but as an artist," he told the crowd. Connie Bradley, ASCAP's senior vice president, awarded him the traditional monogrammed jacket for his achievement. Thrasher's father Joe, who adorned the country charts in the late 1970s and early '80s as lead singer of the Thrasher Brothers, looked on approvingly as the praise poured in.
"He got close to [a No. 1] before with 'I Lost It,'" Chesney said, alluding to Thrasher's co-authorship of the single that peaked at No. 3 in 2000. "I knew ['There Goes My Life'] would touch a lot of people," the singer continued. "Great songs just aren't written -- there's always some emotion behind them."
In accepting his award, Chesney's producer, Buddy Cannon, wisecracked, "I want to thank Norro Wilson for quittin.'" Wilson, who formerly co-produced Chesney's albums and many other projects with Cannon, has cut back lately on his studio work.
Songwriter Mobley was center stage at the BMI fest. Perry Howard, who works in writer relations for BMI, told partygoers that Mobley came to Nashville in 1987 and soon made a name for himself as a demo and studio singer. He would make a much bigger name, though, as a songwriter, co-penning such hits as "How Forever Feels" for Chesney and "I Melt" for Rascal Flatts. Howard presented engraved cups to Mobley, Chesney and Cannon, as well as to Tom Baldrica, vice president of national promotion for Chesney's record label, BNA, and Dale Bobo, head of Warner/Chappell Music, Mobley's publisher.
"As always," said Baldrica, "my hat's off to Kenny Chesney, who continues to make kick-ass records." In lauding Mobley, Bobo remarked, "If it weren't for Toby [Keith], we'd be doing a No. 1 party for ['I Melt']." Keith's "I Love This Bar" blocked "I Melt" last year at the No. 2 niche.
Diamond Rio's lead guitarist, Jimmy Olander, who co-wrote "I Lost It" with Thrasher, was among the BMI revelers.
When he took the microphone, Mobley thanked "the most awesome combination in country music right now -- Kenny Chesney and Buddy Cannon." Sporting a freshly tinted and tousled haircut, Mobley had some fun at his co-writer's expense. "Neil is actually the sixth member of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," he said. "He did my hair tonight."