Billy Currington added his voice to the cheers of admirers who gathered first at Nashville's ASCAP building and then at the BMI headquarters Tuesday (Feb. 24) to honor Jonathan Singleton and Jim Beavers, the composers of Currington's latest hit, "Don't."
Photo Credit: Marilu White
Singleton, who now records for Universal Records South, is an ASCAP-affiliated songwriter, while Beavers is connected with BMI -- thus the two separate parties.
Chatting with reporters before the first party convened, Currington said it was the "soulfulness and R&B side" of "Don't" that drew him to record it. It was the first single from his latest album, Little Bit of Everything.
Amiable and relaxed, the singer riffed on a variety of subjects, ranging from his new single ("People Are Crazy") to the joys of living (as much as he can) in Hawaii.
Nowadays, it may take six months or more for a song to climb to the top of the charts, and Currington confessed that such glacial progress can be unnerving to an artist, particularly when there are other favorite songs on an album the artist would like to see exposed as singles.
"We really wish our songs would go a little faster," he said.
Currington explained he was first attracted to "People Are Crazy" by the title. His interest grew when he discovered that legendary songwriter Bobby Braddock had written it. Then there was the song's infectious refrain: "God is great, beer is good, people are crazy."
When Currington isn't touring, he said he heads for Hawaii. "It's such a peaceful place. ... Any time I'm off, I'm thinking how I can get back there." Currington reminded reporters that he came by his love of sea and sand naturally, having been born on an island off the coast of Georgia.
It was in a "little hippie town on Maui," Currington said, that he finally got to see a live performance by his idol, Willie Nelson, another Hawaii enthusiast and sometime resident. For this show, he noted, Nelson was playing electric guitar -- not his usual acoustic one -- and that he was dazzling.
Currington said it hasn't yet been decided if he will do a music video for "People Are Crazy."
ASCAP's Mike Sistad formally introduced Singleton and Beaver to the partygoers. He pointed out that the two songwriters had also authored the Gary Allan hit, "Watching Airplanes," and noted that Singleton will perform at the ASCAP luncheon show during next week's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville.
Currington thanked Singleton for letting him record "Don't" instead of saving it for his own recording debut. He added that he liked "Don't" so much, he dropped another song he planned to include on his album.
Apologizing for his shyness when it came his time to thank those who had contributed to the success of "Don't," Singleton observed, "We play music all the time. We get nervous talking without guitars in our hands."
Next, the celebrants streamed across the street to BMI, where they were instantly immersed in a colorful (and tasty) Mardi Gras atmosphere. Apart from a profusion of bead necklaces and glittery "coins," there was a full buffet of New Orleans delicacies, including gumbo and a special "king cake."
"One of the greatest songwriters that's ever been is with us today," said BMI's Jody Williams when he called the crowd to order. He pointed to Braddock, who had eased into the room unobtrusively while the other guests were mingling and chowing down. A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Braddock's hits range from "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" to "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
Williams summarized Beavers' earlier achievements, among which were earning a masters of business administration degree from Vanderbilt University, serving as director of marketing for Capitol Records and touring as a member of Lee Ann Womack's band (a post he still holds).
One of Beavers' early songwriting successes was Dierks Bentley's a Top 5 hit in 2004. He also co-wrote Bentley's new single, "Sideways," and is the brother of Bentley's co-producer and frequent songwriting partner, Brett Beavers.
Williams lauded Currington for having "the most soulful voice in the [country] format" and acknowledged Singleton as "a [musical] force to be reckoned with."
Beavers joked that he and Singleton made their breakthrough on the song being celebrated when they decided to change the wording from "do not" to "don't."
View photos from the parties.