Friends and admirers packed the huge backroom of Nashville's Cabana restaurant Wednesday (June 22) to honor Keith Urban and his latest No. 1 single, "Without You," and the song's writers, Dave Pahanish and Joe West.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
"Any time we get to celebrate with Keith Urban is truly a grand occasion," said Jody Williams, vice president of writer-publisher relations for BMI, the performance rights organization that sponsored the party and of which Urban, Pahanish and West are all members.
Urban's wife, actress Nicole Kidman, sat unobtrusively beside the stage as speeches were made and awards handed out.
Williams praised Urban for having "one of the most compelling [live] shows in all music" and for recording "Without You," which he described as being "a little more personal [than some of his other songs] and all heart."
The lyrics of the song portray a fast-living performer who realizes his greatest joy arises from his significant other and their child.
Williams then tipped his hat to the New Zealand-born, Australia-raised Urban for the "overall coolness he brings to our city."
After calling Urban, the songwriters, the publishers and Urban's co-producer Dann Huff to the stage, Williams held up a photo that showed singer Emily West, who, like Urban, records for Capitol Records, handing him a demo of "Without You" at a party.
She later explained to CMT.com that she is a fan of Pahanish's writing and thought the song was a fit for Urban.
Troy Tomlinson, president and CEO of Sony/ATV Music, Joe West's publisher, recalled a recent conversation he'd had with Urban.
"I told him that this is the fourth No. 1 we've had together, and he said, 'Doesn't five have a better sing to it?' I said, 'I like the way you think.'"
Cole Wright, head of Totally Wrighteous Music, Pahanish's publisher, presented Pahanish an electric guitar for his achievement and gave Urban a ring inset with the birthstones of his wife and two daughters.
Ron Cox, senior vice president of the entertainment division of Avenue Bank, which now co-sponsors BMI's No. 1 parties, announced that the bank had made contributions in Pahanish's and West's names to their charities of choice, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the American Diabetes Association, respectively.
When it came Urban's time to speak, he told the gathering, "It doesn't actually start with the song. It starts with the inspiration [for the song]," a role he credited to Pahanish's wife, Kristin, who stood beside the stage beaming up at the proceedings.
Recalling his earliest responses to the song, Urban turned toward his wife and said, "I love the memories of us sitting in our kitchen and listening to this song. ... 'You Look Good in My Shirt' didn't get that reaction.'"
(For those who may not recall, the lyrics of Urban's 2004 single, "You Look Good in My Shirt," center around a Romeo who's sweet-talking an earlier conquest he's just re-bedded.)
As has become his custom, Urban crowned the celebration by sitting on the stage with his acoustic guitar and singing the song being honored.
Torrential applause followed.
View photos from the No. 1 party.