Jake Owen celebrated his seventh No. 1 career single, and his first No. 1 with his new Big Loud Records family, during a party held at the Country Music Association on Monday (Dec. 3).
Owen’s “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” was penned by Craig Wiseman, David Ray, Tommy Cecil, and Jody Stevens. The song idea and groove were inspired by (and incorporate) John Mellencamp’s 1982 signature smash “Jack & Diane.”
“John Mellencamp is not here, but we did make that call,” quipped Big Loud’s Seth England. “John and his manager, Randy Hoffman, they deserve a massive thank you. This is a big ask of someone of his legendary status. We didn’t know what to expect when we sent them this song, but the craziest thing is they called back within 10 minutes of us sending them this song.
“Randy had given me about an hour preface that John can be tough. He respects his work and he rarely does this. But he called us back in 10 minutes and said John heard it. Randy was blown away that John believed that a new version of a classic song still paid it justice and again credit to everyone here for making that happen.”
ASCAP’s Beth Brinker honored Wiseman, Ray and Mellencamp, while BMI’s David Preston honored Stevens and Cecil. Also presenting honors was CMA’s Brandi Simms.
Sony/ATV’s Tom Luteran honored Ray, Stevens and Cecil, while Songs of XO Music Group’s Missi Gallimore also honored Cecil. Big Loud’s England, Clay Hunnicutt and Round Hill’s Mark Brown feted Wiseman, Owen, and producer Joey Moi.
Newcomer songwriter David Ray was celebrating a rarity for a songwriter. While “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” marks his first No. 1 single as a songwriter, it is also Ray’s very first cut. Even more startling, he is celebrating his first cut and No. 1 single as an independent songwriter, not currently aligned with a music publisher.
“I don’t know what to say because I’m about to cry right now,” remarked Ray, who recalled working as a science teacher in Florida before transitioning into songwriting. “I dreamed of coming to Nashville and becoming a songwriter but I never thought it would happen. Then I lost my job due to budget cuts and I just had this feeling to move to Nashville. Finding out that the song was being recorded in Vero Beach [Florida], where I used to play and where Jake Owen is from, this was literally a full 360-moment for me.”
The track marks Stevens’ third No. 1 single, and Cecil’s second No. 1. Cecil noted that his work with Owen came after Cecil took a risk.
“Jake answered an email at 12 at night,” Cecil recalled. “He didn’t even know who I was. I stole his email. I was like, ‘Dude I feel like we’d have this energy together, if you would just hear my songs.’ He replied at like 12:02 and two singles later, I’m very grateful that happened.”
First Tennessee Bank and Pinnacle Bank were both on hand to help celebrate the songwriters. Pinnacle made a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Round Hill’s Mark Brown also announced a donation made on behalf of Wiseman to Second Harvest Food Bank.
England also spoke of the vision Owen had when he signed with Big Loud.
“We had a long conversation, and two things I remember are he refused to cut anything but ‘big records,’ records that stood out, made you listen, and made you call up your friends when you heard it. The other thing is he said he didn’t want to go anywhere where he felt like he was just another name on the wall. And as I stand here, I realize you are helping us build our wall. You are putting the bricks on our wall right now. We are forever grateful.”
Wiseman added, “We had signed Jake to Big Loud—you’re not cheap, by the way. Always easy, never cheap,” he quipped. “All of a sudden they are talking lead off single and I’m like ‘Holy sh*t. How much more pressure can we add to this?’ We’ve messed with an American standard song and so when this thing was going up the charts, I was literally nauseous with butterflies. It took me all the way back to having a first number one, just people sending me texts and emails all the way up the charts. It’s like having a first No. 1 again. I love this town and this business and my songwriters and the producers.”
“I was super excited and flattered you guys gave me that song,” Owen told the songwriters. “I watch it light up people in my set every night. I thank every other songwriter in this town for giving me the opportunity I have in my life to be on the road singing these songs. We get to make people happy and it’s the songs you write that make that happen.
Big Loud, with this being the first No. 1 on your label, being able to partner with people like you…it’s so contagious the way you love to work together. I feel like I’m in a very special place in my life with a lot of special things happening and that’s what I moved to this town for. I knew it was a place I could fulfill my dreams and I’ve fulfilled so much more than anything I could have ever imagined.”
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