country's in trouble, there are a few entertainers the country
audience just expects to hear from. Charlie Daniels is one. Aaron
Tippin is another.
A dyed-in-the-wool patriot, Tippin first garnered attention with
his song "You've Got to Stand for Something," a hit during the Gulf
War. Since then, he's become known for writing songs about pride and
honor -- "I Got It Honest," "Working Man's Ph.D.," and others.
So when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon on Sept. 11, few people were surprised that Tippin was the
first country singer in the studio recording material that addressed
the nation's mood in the wake of the strikes. Within a week of the
attacks, "When the Stars and Stripes and the Eagles Fly" -- along
with a newly recorded version of "You've Got to Stand for Something"
-- was playing on radio stations across the United States.
CDNOW: What's the story behind "Where the Stars and Stripes
and the Eagle Fly"?
Aaron Tippin: Actually, it was written by myself, Kenny
Beard, and Casey Beathard. We wrote it about two and a half years
ago. We had intended it for People Like Us, but for some
reason, it didn't end up on the album.
I write a lot of songs every year or so. I thought, "It just
didn't make it. We'll lay it back here, see what happens." You
always think later down the road, there'll be another album you'll
have a chance to put it on. But I had no idea this was coming.
When Lyric Street called me and asked me if I wanted to do a
benefit record for the victims of this terrorist tragedy, I said,
"Yes, I want to help." They said, "Well, we'll re-record 'You've Got
to Stand for Something,' put it out on a CD, then all the net
proceeds from that can go to the victims." I said count me in.
So, I'm watching the television, along with everybody else. This
guy doesn't even know he did it, but there's some cameraman out
there that got a shot looking back into Manhattan from the Statue of
Liberty. You could see the Statue of Liberty, then Manhattan behind
it. That's when I remembered that song.
"I'm watching the television, along with everybody
else … There's some cameraman out there that got a shot
looking back into Manhattan from the Statue of Liberty. You
could see the Statue of Liberty, then Manhattan behind it.
That's when I remembered that song."|
Did you rewrite "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle
Fly" before you recorded it?
We did some touch-up lines. Lines like the Statue of Liberty
line, it was in there. The first thing we finished was the bridge --
"There's a lady that stands in the harbor" -- and the [Liberty] Bell
thing. That was kind of the core of this thing. Once we got the
hook, that was really the core of it. So it was there from the
But there were some lines in the song that I thought needed
reworking. I'm a rewrite idiot. I come from the school of "great
songs aren't written, they're re-written." It's nothing unusual for
me to be changing lines right up until the last minute. I'll stop
and say, "Wait, let me change this line," in the studio. I'm the
Do you remember the circumstances of writing "Where the Stars
and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" in the first place?
It was just a great idea. I think "You've Got to Stand for
Something" was the kickoff of my career. That song was certainly
like this one is. Kenny's the one that came up with the idea. He was
out riding with me on the highway. We were out doing shows, and he
was just riding around with me, working on songs. He said, "Hey,
I've got a song idea I think's perfect for you, Aaron -- 'Where the
Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly.'" I went, "Wow, that is great."
When an event like those on Sept. 11 happens, there are
certain people you expect to hear from with records that address it
-- Charlie Daniels, Aaron Tippin.
"You've Got to Stand for Something" is a good example of that. Of
course, even though people are whispering, sometimes you hear.
There's a lot of folks that say, "Oh, he's just a flag waver."
Anybody who knows me knows that "You've Got to Stand for
Something" was as heartfelt as anything I could've ever done. And my
participation in going over in the gulf and entertaining our troops
is the most glorious thing I've ever done in my career, to me. Those
who realize that know that.
This song is kind of aimed at country fans like myself that feel
this way, and the guys and gals at country radio, and the
entertainers of country music. This song is kind of how we feel. And
I think those people do realize that this is who Aaron is, who I've
always been. I try not to worry about that.
Do you write a lot of songs like that?
Well, not a lot of them. The feeling has to really strike you.
But there are songs lying back there, now, that are on old albums
that are kind of like that. Most of the time I let them lay in the
catalog because I've been pretty beat up for them in the past. This
one was one that, without a doubt, was God-given.
When did you record "When the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle
We did this Saturday night after the attack.
What was the recording session like?
That was a whirlwind week. The events in the studio were
spectacular. All the players, they were that kind of inspired, ready
to help out and do something and say something. Everybody went in
there and just played their tails off. In about two or three takes,
we had down what was going to be the base track for this thing.
"My dad, if we stood up for the Pledge of
Allegiance or if 'The Star Spangled Banner' was being played,
and if someone around him wasn't giving just honor to our
country, when they got through, he'd go tell them about
What patriotic songs made an impact on you?
"I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee" -- that's probably the
biggest one. "The Star Spangled Banner."
All of this roots from one thing -- my dad. My dad, if we stood
up for the "Pledge of Allegiance" or if the "Star Spangled Banner"
was being played, and if someone around him wasn't giving just honor
to our country, when they got through, he'd go tell them about it.
Man, if I didn't stand up, take my hat off, and sing along -- my
dad, he ain't no singer, but "joyful noise unto the Lord" -- he'd
paddle my tail when we got through. That's just as plain as I can
He demanded that you respect this country and that you honor
freedom. He is the reason. He is "Stand for Something." Him and my
uncle, and that Tippin way of thinking.
I called him the day after we got all this done. We got it out to
radio, and I called him. I said, "Dad, there's a song you're going
to be hearing on the radio. Anytime you hear one of these songs,
like 'Stand for Something,' or 'Got It Honest,' 'Stars and Stripes,'
or 'Working Man's Ph.D.,' anything like that -- remember, this is
you through me." I said, "This is you."
We're not too emotional. No more than we can help, you know. But
I really thought before this chance got away I needed to say this to
All this has probably overshadowed the release of your
Christmas album, hasn't it?
You know something? The label's really kicking me in the tail for
this, because I don't want to talk about it a lot. Not that I want
to cast a shadow on my own Christmas album, but this is important.
This is very important. If my Christmas album got completely
overshadowed, I'd say, so what? We'll get 'em next time. This is a
big deal. It's very important.
It's hard to get me to talk about it. I think it's wonderful; I
think it's great. It's special to me, because Thea's singing so much
with me, and that's just so cool and wonderful. But, man, I don't
want to take any focus off what we're thinking about and talking