There's something about a country song that speaks to the heart. For Dustin Lynch, "Where It's At" is the kind of song that gives the listener a reprieve from reality for a handful of minutes. With its funky beats and sunny atmosphere, it's the kind of song that defines a career. Holding back the flood gates, Lynch took to the podium to offer up a bit of advice and heartfelt appreciation for the song's esteemed songwriters, during the No. 1 celebration on Monday night (Nov. 24).
"All these doors that shut, bring people together in this town," he said. "[But] move to town and find a champion." Previously, Lynch charted a Top 5 radio hit with the more emotional "Cowboys And Angels," a sampling from his Brown Bow Records self-titled debut album. But now, he's shown tremendous, often expansive, growth on his sophomore follow-up. "Where It's At" only scratches the surface of how far he's come and who he truly is.
When the giddy uptempo vaulted to the summit in September, it marked the first No. 1 hit for not only Lynch but also for songwriters Matt Jenkins (Love & Theft's "Runnin' Out Of Air") and Zach Crowell (Keith Urban's "Cop Car," Scotty McCreery's "See You Tonight"). Industry tastemaker Cary Barlowe (Lady Antebellum's "American Honey," Carrie Underwood's "Do You Think About Me," Dierks Bentley's "Back Porch") contributed significantly to the song, too, and is considered the veteran of the bunch, with multiple chart-topping hits already underneath his platinum belt. Ashley Gorley (Luke Bryan's "That's My Kind of Night," Underwood's "Good Girl") earned his first-ever No. 1 as a publisher. "They've grown as men, and I've gotten to watch that," Gorley said of his fellow musicians and songwriters. "It's very, very cool."
He added, "Dustin and Mickey [Jack Cones, producer] knocked this out of the park. It's truly a gem on country radio." As a result, the song has been spun well over 130,000 times since it's release—CMA Senior Director of Membership Brandi Simms revealed later.
For Barlowe's part, he couldn't be prouder. "We wrote a song…I don't know how long ago…but to [now] be standing up here to celebrate with Dustin is unbelievable," he said. "[The song] goes from talking about pizza [to this]. Matt said that a pizza place is 'where it's at'" and the rest is history. When Jenkins took to the podium, he was nearly overwhelmed with emotion, and rightfully so. It was a special moment in time. "I can't say too much or I'll start crying," he said, thanking his parents for all they've done for him through the years. But the water works were already in full swing, as he charged forward with his heartfelt speech. "You know what makes this town so special? The people in it," he said. "I moved here at 19. I feel like I grew up in this town."
"Where It's At" might lean to the pop side of things, but Jenkins' passion will always be with tradition. "Traditional country has a special place in my heart, man," he said, holding back even more tears.
Lynch, Crowell (whose speech lasted a total of about 30 seconds), Barlowe and Jenkins were also presented with specially-made CMA medallions.
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