Can’t Stop The Train: Luke Combs Celebrates Fourth No. 1

Pictured (L-R): BMI Songwriters Channing Wilson, Luke Combs, and Rob Snyder with BMI’s Mason Hunter

Trains thundered by when Luke Combs and co-writers Channing Wilson and Rob Snyder gathered to celebrate Combs’ fourth No. 1 as an artist, “She Got the Best Of Me” on a cold and rainy afternoon at the Corsair Distillery on Tuesday (Feb. 19). In a party sponsored by BMI, friends and family surrounded the grateful and humbled trio.

BMI’s Mason Hunter hosted the event for the BMI writers, kicking everything off by saying, “Anytime you have a Luke Combs No. 1, it recharges your batteries on why we’re all here and why we do what we do.”

Hunter went on to tell the story of Snyder and Wilson’s meeting. “Rob moved to town seven years ago,” he said. “Right about that time, he was working the door at Losers [Bar & Grill], and who would be at Losers? Mr. Channing Wilson. A year later, Rob started the Revival [at Tin Roof] and that’s really where the song started.

“This song was written when Luke Combs was still in college,” Hunter continued. “I don’t know about y’all, but I wasn’t writing songs like this in college. From 2014 when these guys met through Revival until now, it’s been a whirlwind. Luke has surrounded himself with the right people and has fought for the right songs.”

Hunter then made it clear that Combs is the first solo artist in history for his first four songs to go No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Out of his four No. 1’s—”Hurricane,” “One Number Away,” “When It Rains It Pours” and now “She Got the Best Of Me”—10 songwriters have had their first No. 1, now including Wilson and Snyder.

Back row, (standing L-R): Big Machine’s Mike Molinar, 50 Egg’s Jonathan Singleton, Warner Chappell’s Ben Vaughn, Little Extra Music’s Joe Scaife, Little Extra Music’s Lisa Ramsey-Perkins, BMI’s Mason Hunter, Sony Music Nashville’s Shane Allen. (seated, L-R): BMI Songwriters Channing Wilson, Luke Combs, and Rob Snyder. Photo: Steve Lowry for BMI

As is tradition, the BMI writers got a Taylor guitar to write more hits on. Pinnacle Bank made a donation to Thistle Farms on behalf of the songwriters.

Brandi Simms and Brenden Oliver from the CMA were on hand to present the songwriters with their No. 1 medallions. Wilson had to adjust his long beard to fit the medallion around his neck properly.

MusicRow‘s Owner/Publisher Sherod Robertson presented the songwriters with No. 1 Challenge Coins for “She Got the Best Of Me” hitting No. 1 on the MusicRow chart.

Warner/Chappell’s Ben Vaughn had a lot to say about Wilson.

“I’m so proud of Channing Wilson and if you’re in this room and you believe that Nashville is a place where sacrifice and hard work matter, then you too should be proud of Channing Wilson,” he said.

Vaughn went on to compare Wilson’s songwriting with the likes of Steve Earle and the late Guy Clark, bringing tears to Wilson’s eyes as he shook his head. “After we met,” Vaughn continued. “We learned that we both love Guy Clark songs, and at the time I was fortunate to represent Guy. He and Channing I’m proud to say [wrote] over 20 songs together. He’d be very proud of you,” he said to Wilson.

Vaughn let the crowd know that Wilson’s commute to work is 158 miles one way from his home and family in LaFayette, Georgia, and that he has made that commute every week for over a decade. He made sure to thank Dave Cobb for their joint publishing deal and Sony Nashville for their work with the song. Warner/Chappell presented the songwriters with plaques and custom made whiskey containers.

Vaughn also made Wilson perform a special talent, making an uncanny train whistle sound with his mouth. When a train rolled past the windows behind the men moments later, it felt like Wilson had planned it.

Little Extra Music’s Lisa Ramsey Perkins was on hand to speak about Snyder and present him with a plaque. “Rob shows up every day,” she said. “He’s the hardest working man I’ve ever know. Double writes every day. Shows up every day. Cares about what he’s doing every day.

“Luke,” Perkins continued. “You are the most loyal friend to these writers. You’re such an amazing artist, you deserve this more than anybody I know. Thank you for letting us be a part of this journey.”

Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar and 50 Egg Music’s Jonathan Singleton made their way to the stage next to talk about Combs. “For those of you who are new to the Luke Combs No. 1 parties, this is our Penn & Teller show,” Molinar quipped. “One of us speaks, the other one make fun of the guy who speaks.”

“It feels like it was yesterday we were celebrating Luke’s first No. 1 ‘Hurricane,’ because it was,” Molinar continued. “It was about a year and three quarters ago that we were celebrating the first, and now here we are on the fourth! I hear, Sony, you’re already guaranteeing the next one? Is it today, tomorrow, next week?” he joked.

Molinar made sure to recognize Combs’ team, naming: Chris Kappy (Make Wake Artist), Lynn Oliver-Cline (River House Artists), Aaron Tannenbaum (CAA), Sony Nashville and its entire promotion team, Scott Moffatt (producer), and more.

Singleton must have felt that Molinar said it all, because he had nothing to add.

Columbia Nashville’s SVP of Promotion, Shane Allen, was in attendance and let the crowd in on the stats surrounding “She Got the Best Of Me,” noting that the song was the longest-running No. 1 last year at four weeks. Allen also relayed that Combs is currently the third most-played country artist in 2019, and was the first country artist to have two songs in the top 10 at the same time since Tim McGraw did in 2000.

Channing Wilson, Luke Combs, MusicRow‘s Sherod Robertson, Rob Snyder

When Rob Synder stepped up to the mic, a real train whistle resounded through the distillery. Everyone laughed and Wilson shrugged, slyly.

“Wilson is also a ventriloquist,” Synder joked.

“I’m just super grateful to be in this room, especially with these three guys,” Snyder continued. “You move here and you hope that you can be able to do this one day and if you don’t, you hope you’re able to at least make friends and surround yourself with good people. I love these guys more than anything.

“I know Luke fought for this song. He’s fought for everything in his career, he’s an underdog. We’re all underdogs. He said we were underdogs when he had us play on the Opry. I played on the Opry because of him. I dropped a pick and I picked it back up,” Snyder said with a smile.

An emotional Channing Wilson thanked his friend Snyder. “Rob let me sleep on his spare bed for fours years. Never really asked for a dime. Another guy that did that was Tyler Reeve,” Wilson said. “I can’t thank y’all enough. It’s not just for me, it’s for my kids.

“Luke,” Wilson continued. “I walked in and saw you at Brewhouse in Rome, Georgia. In a bar that I could put 40 people in any given night, it was your first run of shows and you had 350 people singing ‘Best Of Me’ back. I’ve never seen that before. We immediately championed Luke because the status quo isn’t friendly to people who aren’t in it, but sometimes talent deserves it and sometimes you just can’t stop it.

“You can’t stop the train,” Wilson said with a smile.

When the man of the hour stepped up to mic, he said, “I’m Luke, by the way.” He thanked his co-writers, Sony Nashville, his band and crew, his fiancé and many more.

“I’ve had some of my favorite times in Nashville with these guys because I feel like the underdog spirit really resonated with the three of us,” Combs said. “It lives in me and my team, it lives in everybody in this room. I want to thank everybody on my team. Lynn and Kappy have been champions for me from day one, underdogs right there with me.”

Combs got emotional as he thanked his entire team around him. “If you’re in this room and here, all my co-writers, the guys in my band, Ethan, my whole entire Row family, Austin, everybody that is with me, dedicating their life to me,” Combs said as he held back tears. He managed to get out a “thanks,” before the party closed with “She Got the Best Of Me” playing loud over the speakers.

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LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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