In 2017, Luke Bryan brought his high-energy concerts to more than 1.5 million fans, and earned more than 1 billion streams of his songs. He is a judge and mentor for ABC’s American Idol, and has been named Entertainer of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.
But at heart, Bryan is still the same modest, fun-loving Georgia native who moved to Nashville in 2001, with his heart set on creating the best songs he could.
Bryan recently celebrated his 17th, 18th, and 19th No. 1 songs with a triple No. 1 party at Analog at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville. The party was co-hosted by ASCAP, BMI, and Global Music Rights.
Those chart-toppers include “Fast” (co-written with Rodney Clawson and Luke Laird), “Move” (penned with Michael Carter and Jay Clementi), and “Light It Up” (co-written with Old Dominion member Brad Tursi).
“There is not a lot Luke Bryan hasn’t accomplished as a songwriter, an artist, and as a human being,” said UMG Nashville president Cindy Mabe, who has worked on every album Bryan has released. “He has been the backbone of our company through his heart, his work ethic and his music.”
“It’s hard to believe you can have this much fun and compile all of those numbers,” Bryan told attendees. “We’re all byproducts of moving here chasing a dream. And you are so scared when you move here that you are going to get somewhere and not fit in and not know if you are good or bad, and the next thing you know, you are surrounded by people that are just like you and are chasing their dreams and they are hungry. Then you call your parents back home and let them know you are pretty much never coming back home, because you have found your place. Nashville has always been that home for me. When I got here, I was amazed at how you can go from knowing no one in a town, to it forever being your home. There are so many examples of the friendship of the music business and Music Row, and it’s so inspiring.”
According to Bryan, the idea and writing process for “Fast” came, well, fast.
“I think I was nursing a hangover that day. I think it was just after a TJ Martell event, you know how those things go, maybe the wine dinner. We wrote another song and ‘Fast’ happened so quickly. I was doing my first European thing and we were in Germany and a text message or email came through and I heard ‘Fast.’ And I was like, ‘When did I write this?’ That’s the beauty of these guys, the fact that they take a day like that and Rodney and Luke really went in the studio and put that all together. I heard it like it was getting pitched to me and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I get a chance to put a song like that out.’”
Laird shared a humorous moment from early in his career, when being a baseball cap-wearing songwriter with the first name Luke caused some confusion in the writing room. “This co-writer asked me, ‘When is your album coming out on Capitol?’ They thought I was Luke Bryan,” Laird quipped.
Bryan said the confusion doesn’t always end when you are a superstar entertainer. “I was on the red carpet at the CMT Music Awards two nights ago, and someone asked me, ‘What are you going to name the dogs?'” he said, referring to Blake Shelton’s award-winning hit. “I had to tell them that wasn’t my song.”
Bryan gave credit to his manager Kerri Edwards of KP Entertainment, for suggesting the co-writing session with Old Dominion member Brad Tursi. The session resulted in the No. 1 single “Light It Up.”
Carter, Bryan’s longtime band leader and co-writer, noted that of all the songs they have worked on together, “Move” marks the first No. 1 single that Carter and Bryan have penned together.
“I walked off the bus and went right on the bus and sound checked it,” Bryan recalled. “Then we didn’t work on it for about three or four more years. It was kind of in the same time period of ‘Country Girl [Shake It For Me)’, so I let some time go between them, but it was just amazing that it all came about. Obviously, Michael Carter, he was in there making sure we didn’t mess the song up.”
Jay Clementi was celebrating his very first country No. 1 single with “Move,” which he co-wrote with Bryan and Carter. Clementi’s longtime collaborator, Radney Foster, was also in attendance. Luke’s team also surprised Clementi with a painting from Rob Hendon, to commemorate Clementi’s first No. 1 with Bryan.
“We spent four years talking about fishing and nothing about songs or the music business,” Bryan said of the eventual co-writing session with Clementi. “We just had that connection. To finally see him in this room and see proud family and friends surrounding him, I’m so dadgum happy for this day for him. Jay’s been in this town for so long and has written so many of these great artistic songs, especially with Radney. Then Jay’s in the room with his first No. 1 for ‘Move,’” he said with a laugh. “Shows you the comedy of this business, right?”
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