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million albums down the road, Aaron Tippin finds himself governed
by twin passions. One is the clear path that has always captured
still love playing for the folks," he says. "I love
to see people loving the old songs, and to hear them roar when
we've done a good job." The other, embodied in his wife
Thea, daughter Charia, and son Teddy, gives purpose to it all.
all is said and done," he says, "I depend on my family.
That's the most wonderful part of my life, and the real saving
grace to me."
more than ever before, Aaron has been able to bring the two
together in the grooves of his latest CD, People Like Us.
Musically, lyrically, and thematically, the CD amounts to a
state-of-the-Aaron document, one that he is undeniably proud
matter what this record does in terms of the history of country
music," he says earnestly, "this is the one I'll always
enjoy because it's full of the important things in my history-my
music and my family."
of the project's songs- "Kiss This" and 'The Best
Love We Ever Made," -were co-written by Aaron and Thea,
and two songs feature vocals by family members. Thea does a
moving duet with Aaron on "The Best Love We Ever Made,"
and Teddy ends a rollicking "Big Boy Toys"-his favorite
on the album--by saying the title in his two-and-a-half-year-old
voice close enough to a microphone to make the cut.
As befitting a family-written song, 'The Best Love We Ever Made"
makes it clear that love's most treasured outcome for parents
is the child or children it produced. Aaron calls it "one
of the best songs I've ever written."
This," the other Aaron/Thea composition, is vintage Aaron
Tippin, full of honky-tonk attitude. The rowdy side is further
represented by the title cut, co-written by David Lee Murphy
and Kim Tribble, and "Big Boy Toys," co- written by
Aaron and Buddy Brock. Aaron's tender side is showcased in songs
like "And I Love You," "Always Was," and
"I'd Be Afraid Of Losing You." In addition, Aaron,
who has given us anthems to working people adds another to the
genre with an anthem to single mothers called 'Twenty- Nine
Produced by Aaron with Biff Watson and Mike Bradley, the album
brings together all the dichotomies that make up Aaron in to
a unified whole, and reflects a hard-won philosophy for the
South Carolina native.
used to want every record to read like a novel, to follow a
theme," he says. "Now, I just want to put together
the greatest songs I can find."
music has always been a mixture of tough and tender, romantic
and philosophical. His first hit, "You've Got To Stand
For Something," established him as an artist with something
to say, and showed that he has a compellingly pure country voice
to say it with. The record went Top Elve, and has since been
spun more than two million times on radio. As importantly, it
helped establish a fanatic fan base that has been with him through
thick and thin ever since.
The hits came regularly. "There Ain't Nothing Wrong With
The Radio," a song about a car that became a country anthem,
soared to #1 and cemented Aaron's relationship with rowdy fans
everywhere. "My Blue Angel" was a classic country
that established Aaron as a vocalist with an achingly personal
style. "Working Man's Ph.D.," "I Wouldn't Have
It Any Other Way," and ''That's As Close As I'll Get To
Loving You" expanded both his fan base and his reputation.
Then, though, there was a period where the hits were harder
in coming, and Aaron and his former label parted ways.
wasn't sure I wanted to cut records anymore," he says.
"The last couple albums I had done, we were cutting all
outside material, and it didn't feel like there was much Aaron
in the records." For two years, though he was without a
label deal, his fans remained steadfast. They recognized in
Aaron a kindred spirit, and with or without current singles,
he spoke to them musically as few artists had before; his concerts
remained spirited excursions into some of the best and most
authentic live country music anywhere. Then, as Lyric Street
Records was getting established in Nashville, he got a call
inquiring about his interest in a new label deal. "One
thing they really wanted was for my writing to be a bigger part
of my career," he says. ''They also wanted me to co-produce
my first album for them. I thought, 'Maybe these guys really
do want Aaron music."
did indeed. The first Tippin/Lyric Street collaboration featured
"For You I Will," which strengthened Aaron's bond
with his fans and opened new chapters in both creativity and
chart success that continue with People Like Us.
Aaron's career successes have brought him a long way from the
South Carolina mountains where he grew up. His pilot father
helped pass along a love of flying, but Aaron took naturally
to country music. While his friends were listening to arena
rock, Aaron was playing the honky-tonks. After his teenage marriage
ended, he moved to Nashville and threw himself into music.
He competed on the Nashville Network's 'You Can Be A Star,"
landed a publishing deal, and took up a now-legendary regime,
working the midnight shift in a Kentucky factory, writing songs
on Music Row during the day, and I indulging a passion for weight-lifting
in the afternoons.
he began winning weight-lifting competitions, his songs were
being recorded by Charley Pride, David Ball, Mark Collie, and
others. first nightclub show in Nashville earned him a recording
contract. with Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, and Hank Williams,
Jr., and launched his remarkable career.
Many of the elements of that life are still there. Weight-lifting
is part of a workout regimen both he and Thea still carry on,
and his musical tastes remain similar.
I'm still about the same guy," he says. "I'm still
about classic i country, I'm still a big fan of the big bands,
and I still love bluegrass."
The business side, while it requires work, is, he says, "a
pretty well-greased train, and it rolls down the track pretty
steady." He is doing about 90 dates a year, everywhere
from big arenas, festivals, and fairs, to small theaters and
every once in a while, we get to go back and do a little honky-tonk
playing," he says. "I still enjoy that, because that's
where I came from, and on Friday night, when they're out there
having a good time, there isn't a much better place to be."
During his down-time, he and his family live on a 300-acre farm
well outside Nashville. "I think the greatest gift a child
could have is being raised out in the boonies, because there's
so much to learn from nature, and from learning to make some
of your own fun," he says.
is a major fan of the "boonies" himself.
'That's the most wonderful part of my life, the real saving
grace to me," he says. "When I'm really frustrated,
I can go to the house and grill some chicken and look out over
the Tennessee hills and see if I can hear any turkeys gobbling
Aaron's has been the life of a journeyman, filled with scrapes
and scars, requiring a ton of toil to produce every ounce of
glamour, but he has made peace with the process.
changed a lot since the early years," he says. "I
think I've learned to take the good and bad in stride, and to
let the heartache roll off my back. Not every song is going
to be a hit, and you learn that what you've got to do is keep
moving on. When the record isn't going so well, I can still
write another new song or have a great day on the tractor out
on the farm. You learn to make good out of what you can."
There is, at bottom, though, one part of show business that
doesn't grow old for him, and that he knows is in his hands.
"No matter what," he says, "when I go out there
on that stage, I can be absolutely in control of what goes on
for that hour, and when we get to the end and I've really got
'em, boy, that's when I prove to myself I've still got what
it takes to entertain people."
that," he adds with smiling self-assurance, "is very
courtesy of Lyric Street
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