Much of Music Row left work early Tuesday afternoon (May 31) to honor Marty Dodson, Jennifer Hanson and Mark Nesler, the co-writers of Billy Currington's latest No. 1 single, "Let Me Down Easy."
Photo Credit: Steve Lowry
The celebration packed the main reception area at BMI's Nashville headquarters, and Currington was on hand to join in the general applause.
As customary, BMI's Jody Williams opened the ceremonies by enumerating the professional achievements of the honorees. He noted this was the third No. 1 song Dodson had co-written, Hanson's second and Nesler's sixth.
Williams also pointed out that Hanson and Nesler, who are married, wrote the title song for the recent Gwyneth Paltrow-Tim McGraw film, Country Strong.
Currington's stats were equally impressive. "Let Me Down Easy" is his sixth No. 1 as an artist. (Currington whispered to Williams that it was actually his seventh No. 1, but Williams was apparently using Billboard as the ultimate arbiter of chart position, as does CMT.com).
Currington first journeyed to Nashville from his native Georgia, Williams related, in the hope of finding work at the now-defunct Opryland amusement park.
"He didn't make it, but he didn't go back to Georgia," Williams noted.
Some special awards were handed out beyond the usual trophy cups and plaques. Ole Nashville, Dodson's music publisher, presented him, Currington and Currington's co-producer, Carson Chamberlain, each an iPad.
And Disney Music gave Nesler a fancy fishing rod.
Avenue Bank, the firm that co-sponsors BMI's No. 1 awards, made a contribution to the songwriters' selected charity, in this case the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
"This is the first time I've ever had anybody write a song just for me," Currington told the crowd when it came time for the principals to speak.
"Billy, we did write the song for you," Nesler confirmed. "I remember being in the studio and singing the demo and thinking, 'What would Billy do?'"
"I tried out for Opryland, too," Dodson told Currington. "But Opryland got paved over, and we're still running."
"The day we wrote this song," Hanson recalled, "I was actually scheduled to write with Jerry Flowers [her former bandleader]. But he canceled on me. For the fifth time. So thanks, Jerry, for canceling."