June 2, 2009 — The second verse of Rodney Atkins' "It's America" revolves around a twister and a small community's reaction to it, and that poured plenty of meaning on the song's recent trip to No. 1.
"It's America" got a whirlwind response from U.S. country fans, and it created a lot of noise on Music Row over the last week as the song was the subject of two No. 1 parties — one at performing rights organization BMI last week and another at rival ASCAP on Monday.
The song was particularly appropriate for Rodney, whose property was hit by a tornado in February 2008. The house itself was spared, though his back d eck, above-ground pool, barn and dog pen were all damaged or demolished. Still, it wasn't the presence of a twister in "It's America" that appealed to him as much as the way it pulled people together in the lyrics.
"That part of that song about communities helpin' each other out and just not havin' a blind eye to stuff goin' on around you," Rodney said, "that was one of the biggest things that drew me to that song was that sense of workin' together toward a common goal and not ignoring when folks need help. I think that's important — especially during this time."
Clearly Rodney got the message that was intended. Songwriter Brett James was thinking of community when he got the idea for "It's America" during the election cycle last fall.
"The right-wingers were hatin' the left-wingers, and the left-wingers were hatin' the right-wingers," Brett recalled. "I was watchin' TV one night literally in the middle of all that campaign stuff. It just seemed like everybody was arguin' over stuff, and I thought, 'You know what? This is still America. This is still the greatest place in the world to live. Maybe that's what the world needs to hear.'"
Brett and co-writer Angelo Petraglia worked up the song the next day, and Angelo slipped a copy of the demo to Rodney's drummer, Kevin Rapillo. Rodney was instantly taken=2 0with it, went into the studio to add it to his album and even titled the CD It's America in honor of the song.
Both writers and Kevin the drummer were on hand during Monday's party, in which a truckload of congratulatory plaques and guitars were presented to each of them — as well as to producer Ted Hewitt, Red Light Management, Curb Records and numerous publishing companies — by the likes of ASCAP, Country Radio Broadcasters, the Country Music Association and Country Weekly magazine.
"Comin' into ASCAP [Monday], I'm like 25 minutes early and just excited," Rodney said, underscoring the importance of the event. "Last time when we were over at BMI last week, I showed up early. I'm just excited as I can be."
Rodney will presumably roll out "It's America" when he appears at the CMA Music Festival June 12 in Nashville. Also taking the stage at LP Field that night will be Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Jake Owen and the Zac Brown Band.