Some of Music Row’s biggest and brightest could be found at Tailgate Brewery in Nashville’s Germantown on Monday (Oct. 3) to celebrate a couple of Jordan Davis‘ recent No. 1s. The MCA recording artist, along with his co-writers, were honored for “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” and “Buy Dirt” both making it all the way to the top of the charts.
Hosted by ASCAP’s Mike Sistad, the celebration started with “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot,” which made its climb to the peak of country radio in tandem with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The song was written in 2014 by Davis and Lonnie Fowler, who rang in his first No. 1 with the track, and was produced by Paul DiGiovanni.
Anthem Music’s Noah Dewey kicked things off, thanking all of the people who got the song to the top. He was followed by Warner Chappell’s Spencer Nohe who doted on Lonnie, noting that he was “an incredibly talented songwriter of timeless songs.” Whitt Jeffords from Amylase Music took the mic next, explaining that the song stood the test of time from its origin to its trip to No. 1.
When Mike Dungan, Chairman and CEO of UMG Nashville, made his way to the front, he started his presentation by yelling, “I love Jordan Davis!” which earned a round of applause in agreement. He proceeded to explain that though it hadn’t been officially certified just yet, the guys were going to receive 2x Platinum plaques for the song’s success.
“The truth is, it’s not officially certified,” Mike admitted. “We have an audit glitch so it’ll be certified in like 15 minutes, but we’re celebrating anyway! We’re really proud of this record and really proud of you, Jordan.”
The writers took over from there.
Jordan mentioned the leaps and bounds “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot” had to go through to get to the top, all the while bragging on his MCA Nashville team. “MCA Nashville is the best out there,” he noted. “This is just as much y’all’s as it is me and Lonnie’s.”
He also took the crowd back to the day the song was written, explaining how special the song was. “This will always be one of my favorite songs I’ve ever released because, much like with any song I put out, I go back to the day we wrote it. I remember that more than the stuff that follows, although this is pretty damn sweet,” he shared beaming at the packed room.
Lonnie closed things out at the first of the celebrations. As it was his first No. 1, he prepared a few pages of notes, joking that he’d had enough time to think about what he wanted to say since he wasn’t sure this party was ever going to happen. He first thanked God for the gift of music, as well as his family and, of course, Jordan. “Thank you to Jordan for bringing your gift of phrasing, imagery and lyrical swagger into the room that day,” he said with a laugh. “He has a way of saying things that’s all Jordan and nobody else.”
Listing off the rest of the team responsible for bringing the song to life and sharing it around the world, he closed by recalling when he got the call that it was probably going to hit the top of the charts.
“When I got the call that it looked like the song was going to hit No. 1, I happened to be standing in a good friend’s yard in East Nashville looking at the entire upstairs of their house in the wake of the tornado. In the weeks after, the world shut down and that’s when the song hit No. 1,” Lonnie remembered. “It was definitely a difficult time to celebrate a big career success in the wake of those two things. For a long time, I didn’t know if I would get a chance to celebrate with anybody in person, but here it is. It’s actually happening. Thanks everyone for coming out, showing up and making the most of this special day.”
Next it was time to honor “Buy Dirt,” which is nominated for the CMA Song and Single of the Year. The Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan duet, written by two sets of brothers—Jordan, Jacob Davis, Josh Jenkins and Matt Jenkins—also won the NSAI Song of the Year last month.
SESAC’s Shannan Hatch kicked things off, touting Josh’s achievements over the last few years—this being his first No. 1. Troy Tomlinson of UMPG commended all four of the writers, as well as producer Paul DiGiovanni for his “less is more” mentality to let the vocals shine. He also announced that UMPG would be making a contribution to MusiCares on behalf of the writers to assist those with mental health and emotional needs.
Anthem’s Noah Dewey returned to the mic, explaining that the group of four best friends had charmingly named themselves the Dream Team. Lee Krabel from SmackSongs followed, putting the spotlight directly on Josh, saying: “It’s hard to imagine a better partner as a publisher. Josh is incredibly talented, but he has this energy and positivity that spreads around the office. I don’t think Smack would look the same if we hadn’t signed him seven years ago.”
Warner Chappell’s Spencer Nohe also came back up, saying that Jordan was “exactly why [he] got in this business,” giving him lavish praises for his songwriting career. Blaine Rhodes from Tape Room Music also echoed everyone’s sentiments of pride for the song. Combustion Music’s Chris Farren spoke about Matt’s career and thanked the Universal team and his Combustion staff.
Mike Dungan once again came to the front, this time with some figures regarding the song’s success. He noted that “Buy Dirt” was one of the top five most streamed songs for two years in a row—both in 2021 and 2022—and that the track has notched over 677 million streams to date. He mentioned its nomination at the 57th ACM Awards, as well as his expectation for a win at the upcoming 56th Annual CMA Awards on Nov. 9.
Next the men behind the song took a few moments at the mic.
Matt took the lead, explaining how the song came to be. “When we sat down to write this song we were at a cabin about an hour outside of Nashville,” he recalled. “We weren’t trying to write a hit, we just wanted to write something that we loved. To see the life that this song took on is really special.”
He also looked back on the last few years of Jordan’s career, while also noting the special bond that the two sets of brothers and best friends share. He thanked Luke for his part on the song, the Universal team, his family and management, as well as ASCAP and the publishers at Combustion, Tape Room and Warner Chappell.
Josh went next, immediately apologizing in advance for if he talked too much since this was his first No. 1. He thanked his family for their never ending support, and all the people along the way who helped him get to this point.
“All of us know that to get here, it takes so many people along the way to encourage you, pick you up, and believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself,” Josh shared. “I thank Lee and the crew [at Smack] whose north star has always been making music that makes people feel something. They have given me a space to create music that I believe in.” He added, “This [song captures] who we want to be as men, husbands, and fathers. We want to live this way and that will always be one of the most special things about this song.”
Jacob took over from there, echoing his thanks to his wife and daughters, and taking a moment to speak about each of his co-writers and his relationships with them. He also gave a special sentiment to his mother, who one can assume he credits for much of his love for music.
“My mom is an incredible piano player and the melodies that come out of this little lady are just incredible. I remember she wanted me and Jordan to take piano lessons, but we were going to play professional baseball so we didn’t need piano lessons,” he said cheekily. “For the four years that we took them, I sure appreciate you forcing us to do that. A lot of it stuck, so thank you.”
Luke Bryan shared his thanks next. He told the story about getting the text to be a part of the song, noting how honored he is to be featured on a song that “does what a song oughta do,” which he explained is to tell a message and inspire people.
He also made light of the conversations surrounding the upcoming CMA Awards and joked that, as co-host, he wrote into his contract that the song had to win, to which the audience roared with laughter and applause.
“This is the most fun business in the world in the best town in the world because we don’t get caught up in a bunch of flashy egos,” Luke summed. “We just love to see great songs get written and I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
The man of the hour closed things out with a speech that explained the critical role that honesty has played in his career over the years. He said that “Buy Dirt” exudes the same brand of honesty about the three important things in his life: faith, family and friends.
He spent time thanking his publishing team at Warner Chappell, his management team, UMG Nashville, and his co-writers, while also teasing future Dream Team songs to come.
“I’m so grateful that I’ve been around people from day one that have done nothing but shoot me straight and try to push my career forward,” he shared. “I’m so grateful to be at the best damn label in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m looking forward to writing many, many more songs.
“I hope, fingers crossed, that we get to talk about this song one more time in a couple of weeks [at the CMA Awards]. I do like my in with the co-host,” he said with a laugh before closing. “To every person in this room, thank you for giving me a career. I love you guys. Go buy dirt.”
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