Hillbilly Hercules

| May 01, 2012

Truckers News Celebrity Series

Hanging out with Aaron Tippin

By Carolyn Magner

Aaron Tippin

Aaron Tippin, known as “Hillbilly Hercules” in the country music business, has sold more than 5 million records and had more than 30 singles reach the Billboard Hot Country chart. His 2008 album, “In Overdrive,” was a salute to American truckers and included many now-classic trucking songs. He, too, is loved by truckers for his patriotic songs, such as “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly,” and for his appearances at trucking shows and truckstop events around the country. Tippin, also a pilot, farmer, winemaker, outdoorsman, competitive bodybuilder and devoted family man, took a break from his “Boots and Roots” tour to talk with Truckers News. 

Truckers News: How is the tour going?

Aaron Tippin: It’s going great. Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie are a hoot to sing with. Get the three of us together and we are a group of singing comedians. It’s more like a variety show than a concert.

TN: Truckers believe your music speaks to them. Why are you so close to the trucking culture?

AT: I was a trucker, or a “highway hero” as I call them. I don’t drive a big rig now, but I do have a current set of CDLs and I drive my own bus. “In Overdrive” is an album I produced and released because of my concern that country music had turned its back on its highway heroes. Seems like somewhere along the line trucking music got shoved off the country music wagon. I don’t understand exactly why. The trucks are still out there. And they’re busier than ever keeping America rolling. I know the folks who work and live in the trucking world still love this music — and so do most fans of real country music. That album launches my crusade to bring the music back.

TN: We can’t listen to “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” without getting chills. How did you find the right words for such a patriotic song?

AT: I’ve been overseas for the past 10 years performing for the troops. It’s easy to sing it to them; they deserve a song. The right words come when you see our guys and gals demonstrating that they are the best and most professional warriors on the face of the planet!

TN: Tell us about “In Overdrive.” All these songs have a truck driving theme.

AT: “In Overdrive” salutes America’s truck drivers. It features the trucker classics “East Bound And Down,” “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Prisoner Of The Highway,” “Girl On The Billboard,” “Movin’ On,” “The White Night,” “Roll On,” “Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Long White Line,” “Drivin’ Fool” and “Danger Dave.”

TN:  “Working Man’s PhD” might be the perfect work song. What’s your favorite trucking-themed song?

AT: When I sing about the worth and dignity of common labor – which is the topic of “Working Man’s PhD,” I draw from my own experiences. I did mostly manual labor to support my musical career, and that’s what’s led to the blue-collar feel in my songs. Growing up in South Carolina, I worked on farms and in my dad’s aviation business.  I grew up with very hands-on jobs. I was raised and taught to work hard.  In this high-tech, high-speed society, somewhere along the line we got the message that if we’re not a brain surgeon or an astronaut, we really shouldn’t be proud of ourselves. “Working Man’s PhD” is proof that there is pride in good American work.

TN: Are you recognized when you go into truckstops?

AT: I get recognized more in my Carhartts than dressed up in a tuxedo for the Country Music Awards.

TN: What do truckers ask you?

AT: “When you comin’ out with another truckin’ album?”

TN: What’s your favorite truck?  

AT: I like ’em all but I like the big ol’ chrome, rubber and steel ones rolling down the highway delivering America the next big load best.

Ask Aaron

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