Eagle-Eye Cherry, Shania Twain Take Top BMI Honors

Goo Goo Dolls, Offspring, Smash Mouth also win awards.

LOS ANGELESEagle-Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight" won Song of the Year and Shania Twain was named Songwriter of the Year at the 48th Annual BMI Pop Awards dinner Tuesday night.

The ceremony at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel honored the 75 most-performed songs in BMI's repertoire from October 1998 to September 1999. Broadcast Music Inc. is a performing-rights organization that represents more than 250,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music.

"Save Tonight," a #1 single from Cherry's Epic debut, Desireless, tallied the most feature-broadcast performances during the eligibility period.

Cherry was a no-show, as was fellow top honoree, country-pop superstar Twain, who placed five songs on the most-performed list, including "You're Still the One" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"

Following Twain was Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas with four awards — three for his band's songs and one for his massive hit "Smooth" with veteran rock guitarist Carlos Santana. Songwriter and producer brothers Fred and Rodney Jerkins placed three songs on the list, including Jennifer Lopez's "If You Had My Love" (RealAudio excerpt) and Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right but It's Okay."

"From the very beginning, certain songs that you work on, you can just tell they're hits," Fred, who co-wrote "If You Had My Love" with Rodney, Lopez, Cory Rooney and LaShawn Daniels, said prior to the ceremony. "We all sat down together and wrote that song, and the end result, we knew what it was bound for. And thank God, it became a #1 song."

New Songs, Old Songs

Goo Goo Dolls singer Johnny Rzeznik took home honors for "Iris" (RealAudio excerpt), which appeared on the soundtrack of the Nicolas Cage–Meg Ryan film "City of Angels," as well as for "Slide" and "Black Balloon."

Among the other honored artists in attendance were Offspring singer Dexter Holland, Smash Mouth guitarist Greg Camp, "Smooth" co-songwriter Itaal Shur, R&B singer and songwriter Wayne Cochran, pop singer-songwriter Tal Bachman, rapper Kool Moe Dee, singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins and Third Eye Blind bassist Arion Salazar.

Cochran was honored for "Last Kiss," a song he wrote in the mid-'50s that rockers Pearl Jam revived last year to great success — it became the biggest hit of their career. The ballad, inspired in part by the death of a teenage girl in a car accident, first became a hit in 1964, when it was recorded by Texas group J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers.

"They say things change, but things don't change," Cochran said. "What moves you, moves you ... [Pearl Jam] didn't really change the song that much, they changed how it was played. It's a very simple little song."

Now a pastor, Cochran heard about the Pearl Jam version (RealAudio excerpt) from one of his grandchildren. "I didn't know who Pearl Jam was," he said. "But boy, I'm just happy as a jaybird. ... I think they did a good job."

Bachman was recognized for his hit "She's So High." "A lot of women say they want men to think of them as exalted," he said of the song's appeal. "And a lot of guys will come up to me and say, 'Dude, this girl, dude, she's so, dude.' So I guess people can relate to it."

Just Hangin' Out

Smash Mouth's Camp was honored for writing their summer hit "All Star." "You have to wait until the whole album's done and you can sit back and listen to it, and then something jumps out," Camp said, when asked about recognizing a particular song's strength. "We have to separate ourselves from being the people who wrote the songs to being listeners. Our friends help a lot on that."

The Offspring's "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" (RealAudio excerpt ) was honored as the most performed song on college radio in 1999. "I'm just here to hang out," Holland, who penned the tune, said after the dinner.

Seventeen of this year's honorees were repeat winners from previous years. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" — the most performed song in BMI's repertoire with more than 8 million broadcast performances — received its 14th pop award for songwriters Barry Mann, Phil Spector and Cynthia Weil. "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'," penned by the team Holland-Dozier-Holland, nabbed its 10th award, and Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" won for a fifth time.

"It's always great to be acknowledged by somebody, like, 'Hey you did a great thing,' " Third Eye Blind's Salazar said. "But that's not why you do it. People will dog you, and people will love you, and you can't be played by either one. You've just got to move forward and do what you want to do. But it's cool. Plus there's free booze, which is never bad."