Weeks after John Rich's highly political song, "Raisin' McCain," was featured during the Republican National Convention in support of presidential candidate John McCain, country artist Aaron Tippin has also followed suit -- but not in support of a particular candidate or party -- to tackle the issue of foreign oil.
His newest single, "Drill Here, Drill Now," shares part of its title with Newt Gingrich's latest book, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, and spouts an in-your-face chorus of this controversial topic.
Tippin, whose No. 1 hits include "There Ain't Nothin' Wrong With the Radio," "That's as Close as I'll Get to Loving You" and "Kiss This," explained the background of his new song during an interview with CMT.com.
"I'm signing autographs for the guys and gals that come to my show, and this was a big topic with them -- the price of fuel and what it costs them to get to the show and how their neighbor couldn't come because it was down to whether they were gonna have a tank of gas or a bag of groceries this week," he said Monday (Sept. 15).
"It really just started bugging me that something was really putting a strain on the folks that mean so much to me -- the folks that love Aaron Tippin music and come out and see me. It just really was very sad -- the fact that they were being punished, and eventually ol' Aaron gets tired of it."
Part of the lyrics state, "Drill here, drill now/How 'bout some oil from our own soil that belongs to us anyhow/No more debatin', we're tired of waitin'/Everybody shout out loud/Drill here, drill now."
"Oh man, they [fans] get those lyrics, and they understand," said Tippin. "They understand that we're getting raped, and it's time to stop it. And the quickest way to stop this is to start drilling in this country. It's the fastest way to gage it."
Tippin, who's no stranger to political anthems, having written "You've Got to Stand for Something" and "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," is hoping to provide a voice for his fans through music.
"I think I am. I hope I am," he said. "Now that I'm playing this song in the show and they're roaring and cheering and singing it with me, I think I was right." He added, "I really hope Congress will change their minds and start letting us drill this country. Technology has changed quite a bit, and drilling is very safe in this country now."
Like others who travel to make a living, Tippin says he is feeling pressure at the pump. Spending much of his time on the road touring and traveling overseas to perform for U.S. troops, it's become much more expensive getting down the road.
"It's really affected us," he explained. "The new number coming out of Nashville is $1 a mile to run and operate a bus. That's strictly for fuel. That doesn't pay the driver and the insurance and everything else that goes with it. Strictly for fuel, it costs me a buck a mile."
But his own dilemmas aren't the driving force behind his message.
"That's part of doing business," he explained. "What really is sad is to think that the folks that come to see me -- even that are not coming to an Aaron Tippin show -- they can't even afford to take their families out to supper once a week, thanks to this," he said in a near shout. "And imagine how gas can jump a dollar a gallon overnight! ... Something's wrong here. Something ain't smelling just right."
But with two sides to every issue, Tippin says he realizes not everyone will agree with his unabashed "Drill Here, Drill Now" message.
"I'm sure there's people out there that don't think we should do this, but what I found so far, that's not the average American," he said. "They're usually the six-digit figure Americans and they're riding around in a pretty nice car, and footing a hundred bucks in the tank isn't a big deal. So they can talk like that.
"It's all about trying to force us into another means of energy -- which I think everybody agrees. We need alternative energies in the future. And we're working on that. But, man, you just can't shut off the oil supplies and say, 'OK, everybody start driving hybrid cars today.' That's what they're [Congress] tryin' to do -- to force us into another way of living, and the American people don't want that."
Listen to Aaron Tippin's new single, "Drill Here, Drill Now."