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Country stars show stripes with songs

By Brian Mansfield, Special for USA TODAY

10/09/2001 - Updated 08:35 AM ET

Like most of us, Aaron Tippin found himself helplessly watching TV in the days after Sept. 11. On Sept. 13, he saw a shot of the Statue of Liberty with the smoking Manhattan skyline in the background that reminded him of a song he had written, Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly. Within two days, the country singer — who had his first hit, You've Got to Stand for Something, during the Gulf War 10 years earlier — was in a Nashville studio recording the song. Last week, Stars and Stripes was the song added to the most country-radio playlists.

Country singer will give single's proceeds to the American Red Cross

Tippin, 43, says he had written the song with Kenny Beard and Casey Beathard more than two years ago, but it didn't make the cut for his last album. "I didn't know why it didn't make the album," Tippin says. "But now, I know exactly why it didn't. It had a bigger purpose."

Tippin and Lyric Street Records plan to donate the proceeds from the single's sale to the American Red Cross. It shipped 100,000 copies last week.

Nearly a month after the attacks, some country stations are playing The Star-Spangled Banner three times a day. "If we put it in there," says Radio & Records country editor Lon Helton, "Faith Hill's Star-Spangled Banner would be in the top 30 of our chart. I had a programmer tell me the other day, 'If you know any other artists, tell them to go in and cut it — we need more versions.' "

The Dixie Chicks have done just that, posting the song on their Web site.

"People are writing songs, and artists are looking for songs that say something, that address the feelings of the nation," says Woody Bomar, a senior vice president at Sony ATV Music in Nashville.

"In the week that followed, we must have had 50 or 60 (such) songs come in," says RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante. He says none of RCA's artists recorded any of that material. "We would have been playing on the moment, and it wouldn't have felt right."

That's less of a problem for artists such as Tippin, who are expected to comment in times of national crisis. "That's germane to who (Tippin) is," says Lyric Street Records president Randy Goodman. "If there's anybody who's going to say it, Aaron should say it."

Stars and Stripes already has become an emotional high point in Tippin's shows.

At a recent show in Georgia, Tippin recalls seeing "a big ol' burly guy, sitting right down in the front row. You could tell he'd slap your teeth out of your head if you looked at him crossways. I start to play this song, I get into the first verse, I look down and that big gopher's crying. I have to look somewhere else, because I start getting choked up."

© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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Oct 09, 2001

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