101: You’ve Got to Stand for Something

101: You’ve Got to Stand for Something

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

You’ve Got to Stand for Something

Story by Aaron Tippin

Song written by Buddy Brock and Aaron Tippin

Recorded by Aaron Tippin

I have to give my co-writer, Buddy Brock, credit on this one. The initial idea was his. I had just moved to Nashville and was writing for Acuff-Rose Music. I was trying to get Buddy to come up to Nashville from South Carolina, where we were from, and be a part of it, but he wasn’t quite ready to make that jump.

I was recently divorced, so I would go back there and have my daughter every other weekend. She was about the same age as Buddy’s daughter, so the two of them would play while we wrote songs. One time, Buddy said, “I’ve got this idea for a song. My dad used to always say, ‘You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything,’ and I think that would be a great title.” I told him my dad used to say the same thing and we got to talking about how much they were alike.

We started off going in another direction. It was about a boy who got into trouble and his daddy bailed him out and so on, and I said, “This is not working. It’s not real. It needs to be us.” So we just took what our dads had taught us and instilled in us as kids and put it down on paper.

I was thinking of my dad when I said, “Daddy didn’t like trouble, but when it came along / Everyone that knew him, knew which side he’d be on.” I remember one time we were at a high school football game. I was about ten years old. The national anthem was playing and there were a couple of old boys standing near us and they were just talking away. The song ended, and everybody sat down except for my dad. He walked right down to him and told them what he thought of their conduct. He said next time they needed to stand up and just shut up, and have some more respect for that flag and this country. That’s the type of guy he was. I saw him stand up that way a lot of times.

I had just signed my record deal the week before, and I went in and played the song live for Joe Galante, President of RCA Records. Back then I carried around my lunch pail and a bunch of song lyrics and things like that in a big old beer box. I was known around Music Row for carrying this thing. So I called him and said, “Hey Joe, I need to see you. I want to play this song for you.”

He is a busy guy, of course, but he said, “Sure, come on in.” So I went into the office and threw this big old beer box on his nice wooden desk, and shoved his stuff out of the way. He just looked at it kind of funny. He listened to the song and then he left the room and he came back with this nice RCA briefcase. He said, “Aaron, I love the song. That’s going to be your first single.”

I was really excited, of course. Then he handed me that briefcase and he said, “And one more thing. Don’t ever bring that damn beer box in my office again.” I’ll always remember that.

You’ve Got to Stand for Something

Now daddy didn’t like trouble, but if it came along

Everyone that knew him knew which side that he’d be on

He never was a hero, or this county’s shinin’ light

But you could always find him standing up

For what he thought was right


He’d say “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything

You’ve got to be your own man not a puppet on a string

Never compromise what’s right and uphold your family name

You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”

Now we might have been better off or owned a bigger house

If daddy had done more givin’ in or a little more backing down

But we always had plenty, just living his advice

Whatever you do today you’ll have to sleep with tonight



Now I know that things are different than they were in daddy’s day

But I still believe what makes a man really hasn’t changed


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