The Euphoria Meter was hovering close to "lift off" Tuesday afternoon (March 19) when well-wishers clogged Nashville's ritzy Sambuca restaurant to cheer Gary Allan and the co-writers of his latest No. 1 single, "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)."
Photo Credit: Marilu White
Allan wrote the song with Hillary Lindsey and Matt Warren. It is Allan's fifth No. 1 as an artist, but his first as a songwriter. The chart-topper was also Warren's first and Lindsey's ninth.
ASCAP and BMI, the two largest performance rights organizations, jointly sponsored the celebration. Allan is a BMI writer. Lindsey and Warren are members of ASCAP.
As the crowd gathered and flowed into every corner, black-clad waiters edged through the maze, holding out trays of appetizers while a corps of bartenders rushed back and forth to keep the mood at a congenial level.
BMI's Clay Bradley described "Every Storm" as "a real personal experience translated into a universal message." He noted that billionaire Warren Buffet had cited the song in his annual letter to shareholders.
(Here's how Buffett phrased it: "Charlie [Munger, my partner] and I love investing large sums in worthwhile projects, whatever the pundits are saying. We instead heed the words from Gary Allan's new country song, 'Every Storm Runs Out of Rain.'")
Lauding Allan for his "complex and deeply emotional music," Bradley called the singer to the stage and presented him with a monogrammed acoustic guitar, a prize BMI always awards members who've scored their first No. 1.
Next, Bradley brought forward Greg Droman, Allan's co-producer; Mike Dungan, head of Universal Music Group Nashville (the home of Allan's label); and Royce Risser, UMG's senior vice president of promotion.
Dungan and Risser both wore kilts.
"We wanted to go balls out for this [record]," Dungan said later, by way of explaining their choice of costume.
Speaking on behalf of ASCAP, Mike Sistad beckoned Lindsey and Warren to the stage. He ticked off some of Lindsey's musical achievements, among them winning a Grammy for co-writing Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel," having songs on albums that have sold more than 40 million copies, singing on Allan's new collection, Set You Free, and appearing in his "Every Storm" music video.
Warren first met Allan, Sistad said, when he was hired to sell merchandise for him on tour. He has three songs on Set You Free and plays harmonica on one cut.
Dungan passed out the menacingly pointed trophy he called "the Impaler" to the three songwriters and Droman and followed it with a plaque for each that enumerated four of Allan's recent successes -- the single going No. 1, Set You Free topping the country and the all-genres album charts the week of its release and the single reaching the platinum level of sales in digital downloads.
"Most of you know my story," Allan said when he stepped to the microphone. "I've been in a bit of a poker match -- and I just won." He explained to CMT.com later that he was referring to a clash he had over the album with his former label head, who, he said, had "messed it up" so badly Allan balked at releasing it and even sought to leave the label.
"Mike Dungan changed my life when he came over [to head the label]," Allan proclaimed.
"It means a lot to me that you guys showed up," Lindsey told the crowd. "It shows what this town is all about. We all support each other."
Of Allan, she said, "Obviously, he's an amazing talent. But he's a good man."
She spoke of the joy of having songwriting sessions in the singer's living room, drinking wine there with her fellow composers and talking about music and their personal lives.
Turning to how the song came about, Lindsey said Warren was "weed eating" when he dislodged a rock that struck him. Deciding to view the accident philosophically, he entered a line on his telephone that would eventually morph into "Every Storm."
Lindsey then presented her co-writers framed copies of the "Every Storm" lyrics she wrote by hand.
Warren recalled he was working as a waiter at Chili's when a customer asked if he'd be interested in earning $100 a day plus a $25-a-day food allowance and the chance to travel all over the country selling merchandise for a country artist. Warren said he would.
He had the choice of taking the job with Rascal Flatts or with Allan.
"I didn't listen to country music then," he explained. "So I said I'll go with the guy with one name."
View photos from the No. 1 party.