When Aaron Tippin's People Like Us recently debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, it was not only his best debut performance but also the highest position reached by any of his albums.
And even though People Like Us — his second disc for the Lyric Street label, after six for RCA — backed off a bit in its second week, the singer still seemed satisfied.
"Man, I'm happy as a fat hog in the sunshine," Tippin said from a tour stop in Iowa. "I couldn't ask for anything better."
While basking in the success of People Like Us (RealAudio excerpt of title track), Tippin is at a loss to explain it. "Once again," he said, "one thing I know in the music business: I don't know nothin'."
"It's just a real Aaron Tippin record," offered Doug Howard, Lyric Street vice president of A&R. "I think coming out of the RCA days, perhaps people felt that what Aaron was all about, radio wouldn't play."
Country radio has no trouble playing People Like Us, and, in particular, "Kiss This" (RealAudio excerpt), the feisty debut single. (Television has come along, as well: Tippin will be the CMT Artist of the Month for October.)
"Oh man, 'Kiss This' is big guns. People love it," Tippin said. "When I get to the chorus line, I'll be singing, 'Kiss this,' and they'll be pointing to their butts. It's a lot of fun."
"Kiss This" was, as they say, based on a true story — a minor domestic dispute between Tippin and his wife, Thea. "We was havin' one of those family arguments," Tippin recalled. "And I decided, that's enough. There's no more sense in discussing this. So I said, 'That's enough. Let's kiss and make up.' And we have a little 2-year-old running around, of course, so she can't say exactly what you want to say. You have to talk around it. And so she said, 'Kiss? I tell you what, you can kiss this, buddy.'
"And [she] said, 'Wait a minute, I think that might make a good song idea.' And she walked off and wrote it down."
"Kiss This," with credit also going to Thea Tippin and Philip Douglas, is one of six songs Tippin co-wrote for the album. This marks a return to form for Tippin, who made his name with self-penned, blue-collar anthems such as "You've Got To Stand for Something" (his first single, in 1991) and "Working Man's Ph.D.," whose themes are echoed in the title song of People Like Us.
"My latter years with RCA, the last couple albums I did they didn't want me to write at all. That's the reason why I re-signed," Tippin said. "I just didn't think that the music was as much me as some stuff we'd done in the past. I really got it pretty lucky. Because I have a lot of old friends who were on the RCA label that work at Lyric Street now. They want to let the singer and the songwriter shine on these records."
Tippin also is delighted that he can involve his family on his new album. His wife co-wrote two songs and sings on one, "The Best Love We Ever Made," the title of which refers to the conception of their son, Teddy. In turn, Teddy makes an appearance at the end of "Big Boy Toys," Tippin's salute to heavy machinery.
"This is my new favorite record," Tippin said, "because it has so much of my family in it. There's a picture of me and my children; there's a picture of me and my wife. My wife co-wrote a couple of the songs; she's singing on one of the songs. Golly, guy, it just doesn't get any better than that."