Billy Currington Single Gets "Crazy" No. 1 Party


Billy Currington photo by Danny Clinch, courtesy of UMG Nashville.

Aug. 12, 2009 — "People Are Crazy" got a lot of country fans’ attention this year — enough to push Billy Currington's recording to the top of the charts. But it was getting plenty of attention even before the public heard it, evidenced in a No. 1 party thrown for songwriters Troy Jones and Bobby Braddock Tuesday at the Music Row office of the performing rights organization BMI.

It represented the 13th No. 1 in Bobby’s career, which now spans more than four decades. He netted his first No. 1 by writing Tammy Wynette’s "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" in 1968, and has since added such chart climbers as Toby Keith’s "I Wanna Talk About Me," Tracy Lawrence’s "Time Marches On" and George Jones’ "He Stopped Loving Her Today." It represented the first-ever No. 1, however, for Troy, who only earned his first hit, Kenny Chesney & George Strait’s "Shiftwork," within the last two years.

The event was attended by a bevy of songwriters, including former Grammy nominee Deborah Allen ("Baby I Lied"), Jim Beavers ("Sideways"), Dallas Davidson ("Barefoot And Crazy") and Wynn Varble ("Waitin’ On A Woman"), among others.

Oddly enough, Troy’s been slaving away in Nashville as a writer for a good 16 years, never had a hit until he was over 50, and ended up sharing his first trip to the top with his mentor. And the BMI offices, the site of the party, are literally across the street from the Best Western Music Row, where Troy stayed on his first night in town.

"I remember checkin’ in the room," Troy said, "and looking out across Nashville and goin’, ‘OK, I’m here. Now what the hell do I do?’"

At a songwriters seminar, he was encouraged to find a great country song and study what made it work. He picked Bobby’s "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which made the event even better.

"Here we are 16 years later, and I’m here with this guy [who wrote it]," Troy said. "It makes me cry, it’s such a sweet thing."

Bobby is actually indebted to Troy, who had the original idea. It occurred to him that there were three statements that no one could argue with: God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. They wrote the song during two sessions several weeks apart, fashioning a barroom chat between men of two different generations that mirrored the setting in Joe Diffie’s 1992 hit "Ships That Don’t Come In." Before the second writing session, Bobby came up with the idea to make the older gentleman a millionaire who left his fortune to the stranger.

Before Billy ever heard the song, Kenny Chesney recorded it, though he ultimately chose not to release it. George Strait considered it for a week or two but let it go. Billy was intensely interested, and it showed in his performance.

"I think the song’s pretty good," Bobby told him, "but you made it better."

The party represented Billy’s first public appearance since he was injured in a storm during a concert in Canada. A fan died in that accident, and Billy suffered a concussion. He no longer has a black eye, though even Tuesday morning, the rumor mill continued to swirl around him.

"Someone called," Billy told party-goers, "and said, ‘Oh my God, you’re alive! Someone said you died in an auto wreck in Florida!’"

Ultimately, like the guy in "People Are Crazy," Billy appears to be doing well. Troy and Bobby have discovered, however, that the original pretense for the song is incorrect. They did indeed get an argument about whether God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.

"I got an e-mail the other day," Bobby recounted. "This one songwriter, singer, she said, ‘I love the song, but beer is nasty!’"