Downtown Nashville event space, Avenue was transformed into a 1955 high school homecoming dance on Tuesday, as the country music industry gathered to celebrate a song that pays homage to a time before email, cell phones, digital downloads and GPS devices.
The most popular girls at the sock hop were the writers of the nostalgic tune, “Automatic”: Natalie Hemby, Nicolle Galyon and Miranda Lambert, all clad in what Lambert deemed Fifties’ “Easter dresses.” The three friends were honored with plaques commemorating the chart-topping success of their song, as partygoers enjoyed burgers, hot dogs and songs from the Fifties playing on the loud speakers.
“Miranda, I’m so proud to have been able to write with you all these years,” said Hemby, who also co-wrote Lambert’s “White Liar,” “Only Prettier” and “Baggage Claim.” “Thank you for listening to my cockamemy ideas… and thank you for being such a great artist and writer yourself. You are a trailblazer, and you have set the bar really high.”
Hemby also thanked Galyon, telling the story of their meeting on a flight back to Nashville from Key West, Florida. Hemby, who is admittedly petrified of flying, said it was Galyon who calmed her nerves on the plane, and the two became fast friends and co-writers. It was that chance encounter that led to “Automatic,” which is the second Number One in Galyon’s catalog, following the Keith Urban-Miranda Lambert duet, “We Were Us.”
Galyon, whose 1-year-old daughter Charlie was also in attendance, choked back tears as she recalled being in the audience at Lambert and Hemby’s Number One party for “White Liar,” back in 2010. “I was standing in the back, and I watched Natalie and Miranda and thought to myself, ‘Those girls have it all,'” she recalled. “And now I’m one of those girls. It feels incredible…. This means someday I can show my daughter a picture (of this day) and say, ‘You can be anything you want to be.'”
Lambert was the last of the three co-writers to speak, telling the story behind the “Automatic” songwriting session, where the three “turned into little girls” talking about their upbringings. She went on to thank not only Hemby and Galyon, but also their parents for encouraging them “to be who they want to be.”
“And thank you for caring about music,” added the singer, correcting herself: “Thank you for caring about good music.”