Music Row throws a lot of No. 1 parties. But few have been as well attended and euphoric as the two that ASCAP and BMI staged at their Nashville offices Wednesday afternoon (April 20) for the writers of Craig Morgan's hit, "That's What I Love About Sunday." (ASCAP and BMI are competing performance rights organizations.)
Photo Credit: Marilu White
The element that made the celebration special was its triumph-of-the-little-guy theme. Morgan records for the small independent label, Broken Bow Records, which not only worked "Sunday" to No. 1 on the country charts but also kept it there for five weeks. Such an achievement is rare, even for major labels.
At ASCAP, all eyes were on Adam Dorsey, who co-wrote "Sunday" with BMI's Mark Narmore. Looking like a teenager in jeans and a tan T-shirt that said, "I Make Stuff Up," the clearly delighted composer seemed intent on personally embracing everybody in the room. The fact that he had interned at ASCAP in the late '90s imparted a distinct homecoming flavor to the festivities.
Besides being a songwriter, Dorsey is also a minister at First Baptist Church in Spring Hill, Tenn. At his specific request, no alcoholic drinks were served at the party. When the time came to introduce him, he stepped forward holding an open cell phone aloft and announced that his brother, serving in Tikrit, Iraq, was listening at the other end. This sparked a barrage of applause. Dorsey continued by saying that all his other siblings, his parents, his wife and their newly adopted baby were on hand.
"The big mistake," he began, as the applause died down, "is I'm a minister and you gave me a microphone. And when that happens, you get preaching or crying." Actually, he came through with a little of both, proclaiming that his good fortune was a godsend and misting up when he reflected on what his family and friends meant to him. "When you grow up in a house that's filled with love," he beamed, "this is what happens."
Morgan was so overwhelmed, he began weeping before he could finish thanking his wife and children for supporting him in a demanding career they did not choose for him. "I really get emotional when I'm tired," he said later.
"I've been touring like crazy," Morgan told CMT.com before the party began. He said that the popularity of "Sunday" hasn't caused his concert fee to go up yet since most of his bookings were in place before the song reached the Top 20. But he added that the song has netted him a lot more bookings and television appearances and that he is now scheduling show dates for early 2006.
Morgan also noted he will be doing some dates this year with ZZ Top -- at the rock band's request. "They said I could only do two ballads [on my segment of the show]," he explained. "But that's OK. The two ballads I'll do were both No. 1."
As soon as the ASCAP celebration wrapped up, most of the crowd drifted directly across the street to the BMI building to join others who hadn't attended the first party. Within minutes, hundreds had filled BMI's spacious reception hall from one end to the other. Here, the beer and wine flowed abundantly.
While the crowd was assembling, Morgan met with radio and print reporters in a nearby conference room. Since he has been charting records for the past five years -- first on Atlantic -- he said his latest achievement did not especially excite him. "For me, it's been a nice gradual climb," he said.
"It's been so gradual for me that there's been no shock factor." He added, however, that he relishes what the record has meant for his label and his supporters.
Thanks to "Sunday," Morgan has been incredibly busy. As an example of his frantic schedule, he noted that he recently flew in from Canada, drove directly to his son's baseball game and spent the entire game on the phone talking business.
On the up side, he continued, are all the calls of congratulations and good-natured razzing he's gotten from fellow performers, including Randy Travis, John Conlee, Blake Shelton and Trick Pony's Ira Dean. He said Dean, with whom he writes every Wednesday when they're off the road, would call him and gripe, "I'm trying to work a frigging record here. Get out of the [chart] spot."
Morgan predicted his next single, "Redneck Yacht Club," will be "one of the biggest hits of the summer" and will help power his album, My Kind of Livin', to platinum status. He will begin shooting the music video for the single within the next "three or four weeks." Comedians Cledus T. Judd, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy have agreed to do guest spots in it.
If all goes according to plans, Morgan said he will return to Iraq in December to do a series of shows. He had also planned to entertain American troops in South Korea in May but couldn't clear the dates. He said he will try again.
By the time Morgan emerged from his interviews to collect yet another armful of awards, the crowd was milling and buzzing to its own rhythms and barely slowed down to hear the speeches. Among the familiar faces in the throng were Kix Brooks, Josh Turner, Dean Miller and producer Carl Jackson.