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ENTERTAINMENT | Thursday, July 4, 2002

Tippin lets patriotism permeate his life


Aaron Tippin’s song "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" isn’t just a chest-thumping call to unite a nation of aching Americans. As the lyrics "And there’s a bell that still echoes / The price that it cost to be free" certify, Tippin’s patriotic anthem also speaks to the fragile nature of freedom, and what it costs to preserve it, more so now than ever in post-Sept. 11 America.

He hopes all Americans remember that when they gather to celebrate this very special Independence Day.

"I sure hope this Independence Day means as much to others as it does to me," the country singer said, phoning from the road last week. "It is going to be one of the most important Independence Days that we’ve ever had. In light of the tragic events of September 11, we’ve come to know again that freedom isn’t free. Maintaining our freedom has its cost."

A man of simple means, the South Carolina-bred Tippin takes the virtues of freedom very seriously. When the nightmarish events of that crystal-clear September morning unfurled, Tippin -- like most Americans -- was angry.

"You don’t do that to America," he said.

But, at a time when most Americans struggled to turn on the television news channels, struggled to comprehend the reasoning behind the terrorists’ plot and struggled to move forward with their lives, Tippin rechanneled his anger and his heartache into recording the two-year-old song.

"I had written ‘Stars and Stripes’ with (fellow Nashville writers) Kenny Beard and Casey Beathard a couple years ago, but it didn’t fit the theme of the album we were working on at the time," Tippin said, speaking about the theme of his 2000 "comeback album" "People Like Us."

"We cut the song over a 48-hour recording session and got it to radio as fast as we could. I knew without a doubt it would be very helpful for a lot of folks. I just wanted to help soothe people and help them with the whole healing process following September 11."

The Good Samaritan, Tippin, and his record company, Lyric Street Records, donated all of the money generated by sales of the single to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Since the single hit streets Oct. 2, it has helped raised more than $70,000 for the organization.

Tippin emerged as one of Nashville’s preeminent recording talents with his debut single "You’ve Got to Stand for Something." The song reached the Top 10 in 1991, and became a rallying cry that year for U.S. forces serving in the Persian Gulf War. Tippin said he found the opportunity to entertain soldiers fulfilling in Saudi Arabia.

"When I went to the Gulf, I got a chance to go over there and reassure the troops that we felt good about what they were doing for us in Kuwait," Tippin said. "They were liberating the country from an intruding dictator, and I got to take the message to those folks about how much we appreciated them and how we were proud of ’em. Doing that meant a lot to me."

Tippin’s sense of pride in his country has permeated every aspect of his life, from his "I Got It Honest," DIY, working man reputation to his rousing live show, replete with his young son Teddy reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to begin every performance. Needless to say, when a federal appeals court ruled last week that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is an unconstitutional "endorsement of religion," Tippin was incensed.

"We played a show in Grand Junction, Colorado, last night and before Teddy came onstage to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I made a comment about ‘Well, I hope I don’t get ya’ll arrested for my child reciting the Pledge of Allegiance," Tippin said. "The crowd went crazy. I think that reflects the great amount of pride that’s in this country right now. There’s more pride here now than there’s been in a long time."

Currently gearing up to release his ninth studio album in 11 years, Tippin hopes the new album "Stars & Stripes," which has a Sept. 9 release date, builds upon his previous gold and platinum successes. To date, he has sold nearly 6 millions copies of albums like "Read Between the Lines," "Call of the Wild" and "Lookin’ Back At Myself."

But if you call him a troubadour, be forewarned. The modest star isn’t trying to be a hero. He’s happy just to do his part, singing songs for his country in its time of need.

"In the end, it just matters what the songs mean to people," he said.

Copyright 2002 The Herald-Dispatch

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Jul 04, 2002

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