A persistent drizzle, lingering from a downpour the night before, hurried partygoers into the lobby of the Country Music Association in Nashville Monday afternoon (Sept. 17) to celebrate the singer and songwriters of Luke Bryan's most recent No. 1 single, "Drunk on You."
Photo Credit: Marilu White
Co-sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, the performing rights organizations, the event spotlighted the "Drunk on You" songwriters Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins and Rodney Clawson.
Inside, the guests busied themselves on a menu of spring rolls, pretzels, cookies, fresh fruit cups, wine and beer as they waited for the ceremonies to start.
Among the attendees was the Muzik Mafia's Two Foot Fred.
Appropriate to the song's title, the stage was decorated with a whiskey barrel and several decorative bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey.
A figure dressed to resemble a giant CMA award circulated through the crowd. The CMA Awards show will be broadcast on Nov. 1, a point driven home by a sign attached to the front of the speaker's stand.
Jody Williams, representing BMI, called the party to order and straightaway summoned Bryan, the three writers and Bryan's producer, Jeff Stevens, to the stage.
Since Bryan and Clawson are affiliated with BMI, Williams saluted them first. He noted that Bryan is now on tour with Jason Aldean and will be headlining his own tour this fall.
"There's no artist I know of who can match the energy level Luke puts into every aspect of his career," Williams proclaimed. He recalled sitting beside Bryan's mother at Nashville's LP Field as Bryan prepared to go onstage at this year's CMA Music Festival. He said he asked her if she realized her son was going to be the next "giant country star" and that she could only respond by nodding her head as the tears of pride flowed.
Williams concluded his tribute by pointing out that "Drunk on You" was Bryan's fifth No. 1 single.
It was also the fifth No. 1 for Clawson, Williams said. He reminded the audience that Clawson, who co-wrote the massive George Strait hit, "I Saw God Today," is making his mark, as well, by co-producing Jake Owen.
Speaking for ASCAP, Mike Sistad underlined the fact that Kear and Tompkins are both Grammy winners.
The two shared a best country song Grammy for co-writing Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and Kear won two additional Grammys for co-writing Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now."
"There's all kinds of hillbilly incest going on up here," joked songwriter-publisher Craig Wiseman when he took the microphone, referring to the cross-pollination of talents common to the Nashville music industry.
Known for conferring gag awards on his songwriters and on artists who have recorded his own songs, Wiseman cheerfully handed out to the honorees quart-size bottles of seven-percent-alcohol beer he said he had just picked up in a McMinnville, Tenn., convenience store.
"If you get stopped," he advised the recipients, "you can tell the cops, 'I've had only one beer.'"
Clawson confided to the crowd he took credit for not writing the line in "Drunk on You" that says, "Girl, you make my speakers go boom boom," but he added he trusted his co-writers' instincts on that one.
Tompkins said he appraises most of his songs objectively but that when he puts "Drunk on You" on, he hears it "as a listener."
Kear thanked everyone in "the entire chain" who works to elevate an idea for a song into a hit.
Bryan praised the writers for giving him a "life-altering song." He admitted, however, he wondered "what the hell that 'boom boom' was" when he first heard the demo.
"Historically, the great songs have that line [people] can gravitate to," he observed.
He called "Drunk on You" the "crown jewel" of his platinum-selling Tailgates & Tanlines album.
Of touring, he said, "Honestly, we're having the time of our lives. ... These are the days we'll look back on and pinch ourselves at how remarkable they were."
Bryan capped his remarks by turning to his wife and saying, "Thanks, Caroline, for letting me hump the air during 'boom boom.'"
View photos from the party.