PEOPLE LIKE YOU
Feature and Photos by Neil Haislop
Before he released his new album called People Like
Us in July, Aaron Tippin had sold just over
5 million albums in all throughout his career
that began 10 years ago next month, when he
charted for the first time with "You've Got
To Stand for Something" (11/3/90). But, thanks
to the smashing success of the lead-off single
"Kiss This," he's sold over half a million copies
of the new one to earn another Gold album. "It's
the fastest selling album of my career," says
Aaron of People Like Us that is rapidly
closing in on million-selling platinum status.
But, the great thing about Aaron Tippin is that
no matter how successful he becomes, when you
meet him you find out that he's just people
like you and me.
was reminded of that last month in Los Angeles
when I hooked up with Aaron on the set of the
video for the title-song, "People Like Us."
Shot mostly on location driving around the streets
of L.A. and Hollywood, and in a vacant lot in
downtown Los Angeles with the city as a backdrop,
Aaron says it is his 9th music video
to date. And, in a town where it is almost expected
that artists will get above their raisin' and
do the "star" trip, when the camera wasn't on
him you could find Aaron pouring his own coffee
at the catering table. Between scenes, instead
of rushing back to his trailer, Aaron preferred
to hang out with the extras, the band or video
crew to chat and joke about pretty ordinary
stuff. We ended up talking as much about the
improvements he wants to make to his home near
Nashville that he practically built himself
by hand, as we did about the music business.
"I'm looking into adding solar power to the
house, or maybe even these new windmill things
they have to make power for the house," he told
we did get around to talking about the music
business, Tippin told me that the new video,
"People Like Us," is a kind of sequel to his
successful "Kiss This" video that featured Aaron
driving a vintage Barracuda. "In the 'Kiss This'
video I rescue a damsel. At the start of this
video I'm dropping her off and saying goodbye.
In this video I'm driving through town and driving
too fast and having a good time and end up here
(the vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles that
had a stage set up and a bar scene off to the
side) and do a performance to end the video,"
wanted to do a kind of sequel to tie the two
videos together since the "Kiss This" video
is one his most popular ever. "'Honky Tonk Superman'
is the most popular of my videos, but 'Kiss
This' is right up there with it," he calculates.
Tippin is enjoying this new success, gathering
it in and savoring it like a man hungry for
a treat that's available at just certain times
of the year. One of the things that keeps Aaron
humble and very realistic about a life in show
business is the up and down nature of his career
for the last decade. While always popular on
the concert trail, his track record on the charts
was marked by big hits with certain records
like "There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio
(his first #1 in '92), only to have a run of
songs in-between that didn't quite measure up.
For instance, between his top 7 hit "Working
Man's Ph.D." in 1993, he chalked up 5 mediocre
chart records before he hit #1 in '95 with "Thatís
as Close as I'll Get to Loving You." Eventually,
that inconsistency caused Aaron and RCA Records
to agree to part ways.
LEASE ON ARTISTIC LIFE
of the reason Aaron departed RCA was his frustration
at being made to try different singing styles
to fit what the company thought radio would
accept from Aaron Tippin. So it was ironic that
the bunch of former RCA executives who are now
the core of the new Lyric Street records called
Aaron and invited him to anchor the label. "I
felt very lucky, one more time that I've washed
up on shore," Aaron quips. Lyric Street told
us they realized that they needed to leave Aaron
Tippin alone to create his music and give them
great songs. So far it has paid off for both.
THE SPOTLIGHT WITH HIS WIFE
Aaron is most gleeful about is the family affair
the People Like Us album became. "That
Thea (his wife) finally gets her chance to shine
is so wonderful," he says with real joy in his
eyes. "She was studying music at Belmont University
and has worked at this as long as I have. Now
she gets a chance to shine. And I get to enjoy
watching her do it, like seeing her face when
she told me about hearing 'Kiss This' on the radio
for the first time. No 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." (left:
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. There's even a picture on the album of
Aaron and his daughter (by a previous marriage)
Charla, and it all adds up he says, "To this
being my favorite album ever."
TO GO AROUND
Tippin is back on top again and he's quick to
pass around the gratitude.
If you notice
that Aaron is singing a little better with a
stronger voice, it's because he needed to change
the technical way he was singing.
"I have to
thank the Vanderbilt University Voice Clinic
for the longevity of my career," he declares.
"Before I was being told I was too nasal, too
country sounding. So I had started singing down
lower in my throat to give it a deeper quality.
But they told me that was hurting my voice.
They said the sound has to come from the mouth
and nasal passages. I just had to learn to stop
LIFE COMPLETES THE PICTURE
complete this picture of a successful and happy
man, Aaron Tippin's personal life adds the final
brush strokes. After one miscarriage last year,
Aaron and Thea found out they were expecting
their second child. "We've found out that he
is a boy," says Aaron. "He's due December 14th,
which is Teddy's birthday, and we're going to
call him Thomas Aaron. I finally have a namesake,"
he says with pride.
Tippin can take pride in a lot of things these
days. He's back at the top of the music business
and stronger than ever, thanks to the success
of his new album People Like Us and its
first single "Kiss This" that reminded everybody
who almost counted him out of what a great performer
he is. Best of all is the knowledge that if you
ever get the chance to meet Aaron Tippin on the
street and chat with him, you'll find out he's
just good people like you.
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