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BMI Honors "Live Like You Were Dying" and Charlie Daniels
Harley Allen, Big Kenny, Richie McDonald Tie for Songwriter of the Year
"Live Like You Were Dying" continues to thrive, capturing song of the year honors at the BMI Country Awards held Tuesday night (Oct. 18) at BMI's Music Row offices in Nashville. The annual black-tie ceremony honors the artists, publishers and writers of the 50 most-played songs in BMI's repertoire. BMI is a performing rights organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music.

Songwriter Tim Nichols accepted the song of the year award, the latest in a string of trophies for the Tim McGraw smash, including a Grammy, CMA, ACM, Billboard, NSAI and CMT award. (His writing partner, Craig Wiseman, is affiliated with ASCAP, another performing rights organization that held its party the night before.)

However, a well-scrubbed and beaming Charlie Daniels was clearly the man of the hour as Travis Tritt and Montgomery Gentry saluted him as a BMI Icon, a prestigious award given annually to a legendary artist represented by BMI.

BMI CEO Del Bryant introduced Daniels as "a man who speaks his mind" and "the epitome of the American individual." He added, "Charlie Daniels has left an indelible mark on American music ... because of his lifelong pursuit of an artistic vision that has been both innovative and respectful of tradition."

Following a short film praising Daniels' accomplishments and character, Tritt offered a solo rendition of "Long Haired Country Boy," leaving no doubt vocally that he's a son of the South, as well. Another video montage followed of Daniels with a variety of his famous friends. For a final musical salute, Montgomery Gentry dedicated "Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye" to their hero.

After Daniels stepped on stage to rousing applause from the audience, Bryant quipped, "I believe you might want to say something. I've never seen you at a loss for words."

Surprisingly, Daniels did seem overwhelmed by the moment. "I started to say I come with hat in hand, but I forgot my hat," he began. He then gently thanked the BMI team, Tritt and Montgomery Gentry, his family, his "beloved and wonderful" wife, Hazel, and son, Charlie. "I cannot tell you how deeply honored I am tonight to be here," he noted.

Harley Allen, Big & Rich's Big Kenny and Lonestar's Richie McDonald tied for BMI songwriter of the year honors. Allen's recent credits include Darryl Worley's "Awful, Beautiful Life," Joe Nichols' "If Nobody Believed in You" and Dierks Bentley's "My Last Name." McDonald co-wrote Billy Dean's "Let Them Be Little" and Lonestar's "Mr. Mom" and "Let's Be Us Again." Neither gave an acceptance speech, but Big Kenny (currently touring on the West Coast) sent in a thank-you tape to say, "I love everybody in Nashville. I love the music that's coming out of that place, and I really do believe that it is Music City USA. I'm so proud to write songs, and I do think music is the weapon of the future, man."

Big Kenny co-wrote Big & Rich's "Holy Water" and "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" and Gretchen Wilson's "Here for the Party." (Co-writers John Rich and Wilson are represented by ASCAP.) Big Kenny's very pregnant wife -- carrying "Little Kenny," as Bryant quipped more than once -- accepted his awards on his behalf.

With 15 songs on the list, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville nabbed its fourth consecutive publisher of the year award, accumulating the highest percentage of copyright ownership in awarded songs. One of the company's songs, "Whiskey Lullaby," earned songwriter Bill Anderson an impromptu standing ovation.

Naturally, the wine flowed throughout the evening and celebrities could easily be spotted. Sometimes they accepted the award with the writers; others came to cheer on the abundance of writers. In fact, it seemed everybody in attendance graced the stage at least once. (Some songs had as many as a dozen people clamoring for a photo op.)

Keen-eyed fans who lined the sidewalks prior to the event could spot a number of artists: Sherrie Austin, David Ball, Blue County, Suzy Bogguss, Sugarland's Kristian Bush, Tammy Cochran, Steve Cropper, Gail Davies, Andy Griggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jeff Hanna, Toby Keith, Little Richard (!), Delbert McClinton, John Michael Montgomery, Craig Morgan, the Neville Brothers, Alabama's Randy Owen, Lee Roy Parnell, the Jordanaire's Gordon Stoker and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. In addition, Chely Wright scored her first BMI medal for co-writing Clay Walker's "I Can't Sleep."

And you couldn't turn a corner without bumping into an established songwriter, including Matraca Berg, Ronnie Bowman, Don Cook, Bob DiPiero, Scotty Emerick, Marcus Hummon, Terry McBride, Paul Overstreet, Bruce Robison, Leslie Satcher, Tom Shapiro, John Scott Sherrill, Jeffrey Steele, Keith Stegall and Monte Warden. Countless members of the industry crowded around more than 100 tables for an elegant dinner. With the ornate and elaborate decorations surrounding the gathering, you'd never guess the space is usually part of BMI's parking garage.

A reception in the lobby followed the formal announcements, with Harold Bradley leading a top-notch band playing country classics like "You Don't Know Me" and "All I Have to Do is Dream" Except for a temporary hush when Mandy Barnett knocked out a killer rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying," the room pretty much stayed abuzz with good wishes, cheek-kissing and -- last but certainly not least -- eight tables of bite-sized desserts, making it a perfect time indeed to live like you were dying.



BMI Country Awards 2005

Song of the Year: "Live Like You Were Dying"

Writer: Tim Nichols

Songwriter of the Year: Harley Allen, Big Kenny, Richie McDonald (tie)

Publisher of the Year: Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville

BMI's Most Performed Songs of 2005

"Awful, Beautiful Life"

Writer: Harley Allen

"Baby Girl"

Writer: Kristian Bush

"Back When"

Writers: Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens

"Bless the Broken Road"

Writers: Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna, Marcus Hummon

"Days Go By"

Writer: Keith Urban

"Desperately"

Writers: Bruce Robison, Monte Warden

"Girls Lie Too"

Writer: Tim Nichols

"Gone"

Writers: Bob DiPiero, Jeffrey Steele

"Good Little Girls"

Writers: Brett Jones, Troy Seals

"He Gets That From Me"

Writer: Phillip White

"Here for the Party"

Writer: Big Kenny

"Hey Good Lookin'"

Writer: Hank Williams

"Holy Water"

Writers: Big Kenny, Jeff Cohen, Vicky McGehee

"How Am I Doin'"

Writer: Jim Beavers

"How Far"

Writers: Ed Hill, Shaye Smith

"I Can't Sleep"

Writers: Clay Walker, Chely Wright

"I Got a Feelin'"

Writers: Casey Beathard, Carson Chamberlain

"I Hate Everything"

Writers: Gary Harrison, Keith Stegall

"I Wish"

Writers: Ed Hill, Tommy Lee James

"If Nobody Believed in You"

Writer: Harley Allen

"If You Ever Stop Loving Me"

Writers: Bob DiPiero, Tom Shapiro

"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing"

Writer: Shania Twain

"It's Getting Better All the Time"

Writers: Ronnie Bowman, Don Cook

"Let Them Be Little"

Writers: Billy Dean, Richie McDonald

"Let's Be Us Again"

Writers: Tommy Lee James, Richie McDonald

"Letters From Home"

Writer: David Lee

"Live Like You Were Dying"

Writer: Tim Nichols

"Mr. Mom"

Writer: Richie McDonald

"My Last Name"

Writer: Harley Allen

"Nothin' 'Bout Love Makes Sense"

Writer: Kylie Sackley (APRA)

"Paint Me a Birmingham"

Writers: Gary Duffey, Buck Moore

"Party for Two"

Writer: Shania Twain

"Rough & Ready"

Writer: Blair N. S. MacKichan (PRS)

"Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)"

Writer: Big Kenny

"She Thinks She Needs Me"

Writers: Sonny Lemaire, Shane Minor

"Simple Life"

Writers: Aimee Mayo, Troy Verges

"Some Beach"

Writer: Paul Overstreet

"Songs About Rain"

Writer: Pat McLaughlin

"Stays in Mexico"

Writer: Toby Keith

"Suds in the Bucket"

Writer: Billy Montana

"That's What I Love About Sunday"

Writer: Mark Narmore

"That's What It's All About"

Writer: Steven McEwan (PRS)

"That's What She Gets"

Writers: Ronnie Dunn, Terry McBride

"Tougher Than Nails"

Writers: Max T. Barnes, Kendell Marvel, Phil O'Donnell

"Trying to Find Atlantis"

Writers: Zack Turner, Chris Waters

"When I Think About Cheatin'"

Writer: Vicky McGehee

"Whiskey Girl"

Writers: Scotty Emerick, Toby Keith

"Whiskey Lullaby"

Writers: Bill Anderson, Jon Randall

"The Woman With You"

Writer: David Frasier

"You're My Better Half"

Writer: Keith Urban
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