Beer was flowing. That’s exactly how it should have been as Billy Currington was honored Thursday in Nashville with a No. 1 party for “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” at Rooster’s, a bar on the edge of downtown.
It marked the sixth No. 1 single for Billy and his fourth in a row, following “Don’t, “People Are Crazy” and “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” Performing rights organization BMI threw the party to honor Billy and the song’s writer, Troy Jones.
“These things never get old,” Billy said.
Billy talked with Dial Global about about his recent No. 1s:
Country Radio Broadcasters, Carnival Music, the Country Music Association and Mercury Records were among the businesses that paid homage to the creative people involved with “Beer,” including producer Carson Chamberlain. Of course, none of it would have happened had Troy not come up with the idea during a drive to Nashville from his home in Alabama.
“I was just ridin’ down the road one day thinkin’ about all the things I wasn’t very good at,” Troy said, “and I thought, ‘Really, if somethin’ happened and the music business went to hell today, what would I do?’ I thought, ‘All I’m really good at is pickin’ that guitar a little bit and writin’ songs.’ And that’s how it started. I just started makin’ a mental list of ‘I’m not good at diggin’ deep holes, I’m not good at climbin’ high-line poles, I’m not good at makin’ motors crank or any of that.’”
In practice, the difficult part of the song was finding something he was good at. That part of “Beer” didn’t come for some time.
“I have a lot of experience at drinkin’ beer,” Troy laughed, “and I tried that and it just kinda fell out. It’s obviously just a simple song. It just kinda fell out.”
Troy put it on a promotional CD that featured five demo recordings of his songs, and that CD found its way into Billy’s hands. One of the songs, “Shiftwork,” ended up getting recorded by George Strait and Kenny Chesney. Yet another one, “People Are Crazy,” became one of Billy’s signature titles last year.
In fact, both “Beer” and “People Are Crazy” were essential parts of the set list when Billy opened for Carrie Underwood at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena the night before the No. 1 party. All but one of the songs in his show was already an established single.
“It’s nice to have a set of No. 1 songs to play to the people, ‘cause they recognize ‘em for sure,” Billy notes. “When you’re fixin’ to play the song, you’re gonna be confident and you’re gonna feel good and it’s gonna be fun for everyone. It’s a lot different playing songs for people that they know versus songs that they don’t know.”
“Beer” is, according to Rhett Akins, a perfect song for the Internet age. Rhett had a few hits of his own as an artist during the 1990s, and now he’s one of Nashville’s most successful songwriters, having penned Josh Turner’s “All Over Me,” Joe Nichols’ “Gimmie That Girl” and Blake Shelton’s “All About Tonight.” People have so many things going on in their lives now, Rhett says, that they don’t have the patience to wait too long to get to the hook in a song. And that’s why “Beer” is his favorite current hit.
“In four lines, you are nailed,” Rhett says. “They said three lines describin’ what he’s not good at. But he goes, ‘I’m pretty good at drinkin’ beer.’ You don’t have to say another word. I mean, the song’s over with at that point. You’re just repeatin’ yourself at that point. Troy Jones absolutely nailed, nailed, nailed.”
Billy didn’t have to be convinced.
“It’s always about the song,” he said, “always.”
One footnote: While while new success is brewing for “Beer,” “People Are Crazy” continues to scale new heights. That song was recognized at Thursday’s No. 1 party with a platinum sales plaque. And it’s supposed to appear in a scene in the next Robert Downey Jr. movie, Due Date. It comes out Nov. 5.