HOME FIRES

Andy Griggs knows how to keep his love life sizzling

All Andy Griggs wanted to do was impress his wife. So he walked into their bedroom, sat down on the bed and serenaded Stephanie with his new single, "Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man." And impress he did!

"She stopped cold and for a while she couldn't speak," recalls Andy. "She just kept shaking her head. Finally she said, 'You can stop writing now. There's no way you'll ever write past that.' "

There was only one problem -- Andy didn't actually write the song. He'd heard it while listening for tunes for his upcoming album, Freedom.

"As a songwriter, every now and then you'll hear songs and think, 'I wish I had written that song,' " declares Andy from the set of the song's video shoot in Nashville. "This song nails that to the bone."

As he walks up and down a neighborhood street while a camera catches the video's action, Andy nails take after take. "For this video," he notes, "I wanted to be on the outside looking in. I'm speaking to the camera like a messenger."

The message he's sending is a romantic one. The song begins and the camera rolls.

Baby, light a couple candles
Lock the bedroom door
Put on some sweet soul music
Throw a blanket on the floor
And surrender to my patient hands
All week I've been your husband
Tonight I wanna be your man

In the video, Andy can be seen on a TV screen while a too-busy couple watching the TV begins to realize they need to take time for each other. "It's a video inside a video," explains Andy. "They watch my video and the song affects them. It sort of adds the little 'salt and pepper' they needed. Then the couple will be shown slow dancing to the part of the video we're filming today."

With a hectic touring schedule and a new album being released this spring, Andy knows all about the importance of taking time for loved ones. His secret for happiness is simple. "When I'm home, it's all about me and Stephanie," he confides.

"We spend quality time when we're together," he continues. "She works hard for me when I'm there and I work hard for her. My mission is to be able to say, 'My music is not affecting my marriage.'

"I feel like I have a pretty high batting average with that," he adds. "Nobody's going to bat a thousand, but I try my best to leave the music business out of the house. If a business call comes up, either I won't take the call or I'll go outside on my front porch and talk there."

Andy reveals that he knows a thing or two about romance. "It's not really what we do -- it's just making sure we do it together," he says. "Sometimes she'll come home and I'll have something cooked, with candles lit and her favorite CD playing. She thinks I've been slaving all day when it was just a 20-minute oven lasagna kind of thing. We'll eat, and I'll have all these things mapped out.

"And sometimes it's just, 'What do you want to do?' She likes those buffalo wings at Chili's so we'll go there. Or we'll go build a fire outside, or go hear some music in downtown Nashville. We really don't put a lot of planning into what we do, as long as it's us -- no cell phones, no managers, no record label, no nothing. That's the key."

Although "Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man" is scoring an immediate impact on women everywhere -- including his wife -- the song almost wasn't on Andy's new album. Freedom was originally slated to be released in 2000. But as he listened to

the collection of songs, Andy realized it wasn't complete.

"I called RCA and said, 'We've got some great songs but I'm not sure if all of them add up to one theme,' " he explains. "My favorite album in the world is Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger. All of it is one story, one punch line.

"Freedom was the title of the album. But I felt like things were scattered -- like they really weren't all about freedom. So I said, 'Maybe we better go back in the studio and change some things.'

"On that new session I recorded 'Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man' and another song. Then I got rid of two

songs I'd already recorded to make room for them."

Now Andy's more anxious than ever about the spring release of Freedom. After fielding questions from fans about when he'd have new music, he finally has some to share with them.

"I'm excited," he declares with a smile. "I'm married to all these songs, whether I wrote them or not."

And whether he wrote it or not, there's one particular song that Stephanie Griggs will never get tired of hearing her husband sing -- and that's "Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man."

"She said, 'Make me a deal,' " says Andy.

" 'When you come home, let's pretend you wrote that song. That's our song.' "

-- Wendy Newcomer

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