Rain was pelting the vaulted skylights of the CMA Building in Nashville at midday Tuesday (Aug. 20) when Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Luke Laird stepped onstage to accept praise and trophies for having written "Beat This Summer," Paisley's latest hit.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
The song climbed to No 1. on Mediabase and Aircheck and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's country airplay chart.
The ceremony was co-sponsored by the performance rights societies, ASCAP and BMI, which were represented by LeAnn Phelan and Jody Williams, respectively. Paisley and DuBois are ASCAP writers. Laird is a member of BMI.
While waiting for the charmed trio to arrive, guests loaded up on fried chicken, side dishes, yoghurt, soft drinks and beer.
Phelan opened by alluding to the great number of writers DuBois had mentored when he worked for ASCAP. Alas, she phrased it as "how many young writers you touched," an image that set the ever-mischievous Paisley chuckling. Instantly, the crowd joined in.
Phelan soldiered on, stressing that DuBois had "critiqued their songs in a respectable matter." But by this time, she had pretty much lost that particular verbal skirmish.
Moving on, she noted that Paisley had won ASCAP's singer-songwriter of the year honors for three years and that Sea Gayle Music, the publishing company he and DuBois had founded, currently had six singles on the Billboard country songs chart.
Williams proclaimed Paisley "one of the all-time great country artists" and thanked him for his contributions to the genre.
He reminded the crowd that Laird was BMI's country songwriter of the year for 2012 and pointed out that five of the songs heard on the recent CMA Music Festival television special were Laird's.
Williams said that Laird and his wife Beth, a former BMI employee, had started their own publishing company, Creative Nation, in 2011 and that "Beat This Summer" was the company's first hit.
The visibly pregnant Beth Laird then took the microphone to laud the three writers. Speaking to her husband directly, she added, "You're the most humble and caring man I've ever known. ... I can't wait for our adventure ahead."
Laird was the first of the writers to speak. Looking at notes on his cell phone screen, he thanked virtually everyone involved in the song's success.
But he was modest about his own contributions to it. "I will say I had nothing to do with the bridge -- and that was probably my favorite part of the song. ... But I get paid as much [for it] as they do."
He said he first met Paisley in 1998 as a college student working as a volunteer for Country Radio Seminar. Paisley was then a beginning artist, making the rounds of radio, and trying to get his first single, "Who Needs Pictures," off the ground.
Laird paused from his remarks and looked up at the excerpts from hit songs painted on the walls beside the stage. Gesturing toward an excerpt from "Hillbilly Bone," he said, "They actually quoted one of my more creative efforts. . . . That may be on my tombstone."
Paisley said he was impressed that Laird had so quickly acclimated himself to the "frat house" atmosphere that surrounded the writing session. "It's like where we [reveal] our deep dark secrets," he mused, "like Chris touching all those young guys at ASCAP. I was one of them."
He said that he and Laird had the common denominator of having witnessed the "drunken craziness" of 60,000 or so fans that attend the annual Jamboree in the Hills near Wheeling, W. Va., where Paisley got his start.
"This guy knows our fan base," he declared.
Paisley said the songwriting and recording for his latest album, Wheelhouse, often extended into the late hours. "I can remember singing the lines [of 'Beat This Summer'] at 4 in the morning and Luke asleep in a chair."
View photos from the party.