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He still lives close to where he was born with his wife of over twenty years and their family. He still speaks his mind on most things straight up and you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting person for conversation on many subjects over a beer, yet, at the same time.as an artist he's sold over 30,000,000 albums. This three time BMI Songwriter of the Year has amassed an unparalleled 50,000,000 spins. His career totals 22 #1 Singles. He was the Most-played Recording Artist on Country Radio per Nielsen BDS monitored airplay in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. He is Pollstar's #1 Country Ticket Seller 2 times this century and is one of only five artists in 40 years to win back to back ACM Entertainer of the Year awards. He is the National Spokesperson for Ford Trucks who've sponsored his tour the last four years. He's achieved a level of artistic freedom and a relationship with his fans that confirm one thing over and over again . Toby Keith is the Big Dog Daddy.
On his first totally controlled album for his own label, Toby Keith adds another title to his résumÃ©: producer. Throughout, the former Oklahoma wildcatter, who's taken heat for his blustery patriotism and outspoken remarks, seems to be seeking new respect, shifting the focus off of politics and grandstanding and back to his talents as a musician. While his last album, "i"White Trash with Money, found him flirting with Ramp;B and adding horns for a bit more bump, his latest effort finds him nearly in a singer-songwriter mood, taking more time to craft the sound of the tracks and laying down his own harmonies. He's still relying on gimmicky wordplay and cartoon puffery for his full-tilt radio numbers ("High Maintenance Woman," "Big Dog Daddy"), but he also showcases the sensitive, ballad-heavy side of his personality that hasn't been as apparent since the '90s ("Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You," "We Were in Love"). He achieves this with some fine cowriting--the winsome "I Know She Hung the Moon" and "Walk It Off," and the lusty "Burnin' Moonlight." He also finds two excellent covers, Fred Eaglesmith's "White Rose" (which combines nostalgia for full-service gas stations with that of a teen's coming of age) and the thoughtful Craig Wiseman/Chris Wallin ballad "Love Me If You Can." The latter, a quiet social commentary, revisits Keith's familiar theme of holding one's ground, but with a far more compassionate approach than he's tried before. Consider it a meditation from a brash king of the hill who hasn't forgotten how to be humble. --Alanna Nash
By. As in, sung by, written by, released by, produced by...That last one's new for me. The only reason I never produced an album by myself before is I didn't have time. Why not? Because I'm opening record labels and restaurants, working on movies and things like that. But I knew I was going to have to across the board dive in if I wanted this album to be one of the best of my career. So I came in with guns blazing. So a tremendous amount of thought, time and effort went into Big Dog Daddy. Last year when we were finishing White Trash with Money, Tom Bukovac came in and played guitar. I told him I had a couple things that were going to be really rock edged on the next album, kind of a southern rock and blues thing. I asked him to take them from the guitar side and think about grooves and rhythms -- help structure these things. So he and I co-produced "Hit It" and "Big Dog Daddy," and I produced the rest by myself. I sang my own harmonies on this album and I'd never done that before. I'd let harmony singers come in and do their thing. This time we'd get through laying down a song and the engineer would play it back while I threw down a harmony track. Me singing with me. "High Maintenance Woman" is one of them. "White Rose" and "Love Me If You Can." You get out what you put in. I've always been the hardest worker, and prided myself on that. I may not be the biggest star around, but nobody will ever out work me. That's my approach. For the first time ever, I've made an album that I can listen to up and down and never go, "Man, I wish I didn't let them do that." If I didn't like the way something sounded, I fixed it. There's a little piece on "White Rose" where the chorus says, "Now there's plywood for glass where the windows all got smashed...there's a couple of cars half out of the ground..." right in there you can hear the harmonies do a big swell. Well, when they comp'ed it down somebody lost that. I was already hearing it in my head and loved it, so I called back and told them to turn those harmonies up 25%. Ten years from now I'd have been wondering why the producer let that go. Those intricate pieces are scattered all through the album, and they're stamped with my approval. We break it down as far as turning everything off but the steel guitar and listening to the full three minutes of just that. When you've got 30 tracks it takes hours to listen to one song that way. But we went in there, cleaning stuff up, taking out all the unnecessary string noises and accidental pick sounds. All those decisions are my brand on this album. Every song on here means something to me and a lot of effort went into making sure there's no letdown whatsoever. Dean Dillon and Scotty Emerick wrote a couple with me, I wrote one with Bobby Pinson, whose music I've really gotten into lately. I picked up one from Fred Eaglesmith that's been on my list for years and I'm glad to finally get on an album. When Craig Wiseman came out to write a couple songs with me, he played "Love Me If You Can." I asked him to leave it with me for a while, and he did. It grew on me until finally not only did it get cut, it's going to be a single. That song is just me."p" I get roped into these political arguments, but the truth is I don't see things right or left, I see them right or wrong. If you put check boxes on the left and right for all the big issues, my list will go back and forth all the way down. But all I have to do is disagree with a hardcore, far left liberal on one thing and they just mark me down with all the boxes on the right. And it's pretty much the same thing on the other side. That song says exactly how I feel about myself in the world. I have to deal with other celebrities assuming all my marks are in one column, and all it shows me is that most of those people are very uneducated. For instance, Sean Penn was accepting a humanitarian award from a freedom of speech organization recently and said Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Toby Keith should be held accountable now that the Iraq war has gone astray. He's lumping me in with these guys when my song clearly, word for word, indicated my support for the invasion of Afghanistan. Now the difference between me and Sean Penn is that I've talked to 50 generals. I doubt he's even talked to one. I didn't support the war in Iraq and still don't, but I'm sure I know more about it than he does. When he and Clooney get together and say we should go to Africa and stop the genocide, I'll be the one over there performing for the troops when it happens. I'm not going to apologize for where I stand. I am who I am, and if that bothers people it's okay. And if you agree with me, that's fine, too. I don't feel like I have anything to prove. Not since 2000, anyway. My first seven years in the business I was fighting all the time to prove myself. But I've answered those questions. It's been a blur, the last 18 months. It really has. I looked up the other day and thought about the 50 million airplays BMI honored me for a couple months back. I had no idea what that means. There's no board, no big music ladder you can look at and say, well you started out down here and you've gotten up this far. So I asked them, what does it mean? They said it means Elton John, the Bee Gees, John Lennon. That put it in perspective. All I'm really trying to do now is keep my plate creatively full. Staying creative is important to me. I don't work 155 shows anymore. I don't work 100 or 80. I work 60 and that's plenty. I can go out and tackle this acting world. The people who are in the know are very comfortable with my first attempt. I just wrote the treatment for my next movie, Beer for My Horses. Turned it in yesterday. And I can take the time and put the energy into producing this album. It was time. White Trash with Money was released on Show Dog, but it was still a 50-50 venture with Universal. It was actually the last album off my old deal with DreamWorks-Universal. Other than the soundtrack for Broken Bridges, this is the first studio album Show Dog has released that it has 100% ownership of. To own these masters, you would have to buy my record label. So it just seems right that it's sung by, written by and produced by. I couldn't be happier with it. Toby Keith Photos
More Toby Keith
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
Broken Bridges soundtrack
Big Dog Daddy- cut by cut
High Maintenance Woman
Toby Keith/Tim Wilson
My manager T.K. met his ex-wife years ago when she was the head cheese at an apartment complex in Nashville. They had a basketball goal outside for the residents and T.K. would shoot baskets with the complex's maintenance man Curt while waiting for Betty to get off work. Curt eventually asked T.K. how he could get into the music business and, long story short, he's now one of the head guys at my booking agency Monterey Peninsula Artists.
The three of us were at dinner one night and got to talking about Betty, who was just a country girl back at the apartment complex, but is kind of a high maintenance chick now. Likes her Dolce amp; Gabbana. T.K. said something about having known her for 20-some years, and Curt mentioned he'd known her a lot longer since they'd worked together before T.K. was in the picture. I asked Curt if he ever dated Betty and he said, "No, she was too high maintenance for the maintenance man."
So I went and wrote the song, played it for T.K. and Curt, and everybody laughed. I got to the studio and played it for the session guys and they said, "Aw, man. There's a comedian named Tim Wilson who's got a skit about that and has a little ditty song that's kind of the same thing." I said, you're kidding me. But that kind of thing happens all the time. I wrote a song called "Alcohol of Fame" a long time ago and was real proud of how original it was until I played it for someone who said there are about 15 with that title registered with BMI.
Tim's a friend of mine, so I called him and told him about my song and what the session musicians had told me about his. I said I wouldn't even record mine without his blessing, which he gave. And just because I don't want anyone to ever think I copped his song, we threw him a small share of the writing and put their names on it.
As for the song itself, you could call it a stalker song, I guess. He sees her every day and wants to know everything she does, but the end result is she's just not going to fall for the maintenance man."p" "p""b"Love Me If You Can"br""i"Craig Wiseman"br" Very few times do I record a song I don't write. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I've done that in my whole career. This song wasn't written for me, but it sounds like I wrote it for myself.
Every word Craig wrote tells it like it is for me. There are a lot of homeless people out there who are lazy, drunk or hooked on drugs, but there are some who might just be down on their luck. So I may feel like the homeless should just get up and go to work, but I won't stop giving money to charitable organizations that help people on the street. I do sometimes think war is necessary, but if we could push the big red peace button and make it all end I think every single one of us would."p" "p""b"White Rose"br""i"Fred Eaglesmith"br" This is the other one I didn't write. Curt, my booking agent, sent me some Fred Eaglesmith songs three or four years ago. I pulled two or three songs from those albums and put them on my iPod. I do a lot of running and as I run I listen to a lot of songwriter type songs. This song is such a great story and the beauty of it is there are no White Rose filling stations in the U.S., only in Canada. But it doesn't change the meaning one bit.
The White Rose is the filling station in your neighborhood. If you grew up pre-Eighties, you remember gas stations where they bumped your tires, checked your oil, did your windows and filled your tank. Everything now is plug your card in and do it yourself. The memories you first have of driving a car and teenage romance -- those places stick with you. Ours was called The Derby gas station, and it's forever gone. I've been wanting to cut this for the last four albums and didn't, but I wasn't going to wait any longer. The session guys just killed it.
Get My Drink On
Toby Keith/Dean Dillon/Scotty Emerick
We were on the bus one night and somebody asked if anyone needed anything at the store and someone said, "Yeah, pick up some beer. I need to get my drink on." Might have been me, I don't remember. Dean, Scotty and I sat down a few days later to write and I told them this title. They loved it and Scotty started working on the groove. It fell out in about 45 minutes. If you're gonna sing it you better have your mouth and tongue loosened up because it's a word salad. They all get chopped up in there. They're coming and you better be ready because they can get by you quick. The instrumentation on this is the best on the album, I think.
Wouldn't Want To Be Ya"br""i"Toby Keith/Scotty Emerick"br" These are the kind of songs I learned to sing and play in bars when I was a kid. The people who wrote and cut these kinds of country songs were the ones I gravitated to. We crafted this title into a song a little bit differently. Usually you'd hear "See ya, wouldn't want to be ya" as derogatory. A slam. But I'm proud of the way we laid it out where the girl says it because she feels like he's a tortured person. She feels sorry for him. You've always got that longing and itching to go. And then we turn the phrase a little when he comes back. Now it's kind of funny.
Simple country music with some fine craftsmanship. It's got a classic, almost retro early Eighties vibe to it."p" "p""b"Big Dog Daddy"br""i"Toby Keith"br" Ford has been my tour sponsor for years and they asked me to come to the Texas State Fair in Dallas to unveil their new F-450 Superduty for a bunch of media. I walked up on it, got in it and one of the Ford guys said, "Well, what do you think, Big Dog?" And I said, "This is a Big Dog Daddy." Everybody busted out laughing and they said when you go out there, say that. So when I drove it out for the media I said, "I'd like to introduce you to Ford's new Big Dog Daddy." And that became the deal.
Every year I'm looking for a new tour name. Unleashed. Throw Down. Hookin' Up amp; Hangin' Out. Ford suggested I call this year's the Big Dog Daddy tour, which was alright with me. I got to thinking about it and realized, that's a great title maybe I'll write a song. I started driving on the top of a guitar and putting rhymes together. We add horns when we do it live to give it even more bump.
I Know She Hung The Moon
Toby Keith/Scotty Emerick
I was playing a show in Memphis five or six years ago. I'd never been to Elvis' house and decided I needed to sneak over and see it. The limo driver who picked us up asked me to sign something for his daughter. "She thinks you hung the moon," he said, "but she's a daddy's girl and she knows I'm the one that held the ladder." I thought that was very clever and started trying to figure out a way to write that. It's hard to say that to someone you love because it doesn't fit: "Baby, you hung the moon, but I'm the one who held the ladder."
So I thought, wouldn't it be neat if this guy has a pretty wife and everywhere they go people look at her then look at him and go, "He out-kicked his coverage on this deal." But he's comfortable because he knows she's true to the bone. I cut it five years ago for another album, but we had so much stuff I knew would be singles I didn't want this to get lost. Finally, this song's time is now.
Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson
I fell in love with Bobby Pinson's music over the last couple years. He really digs into songs the same way I do, and I don't write with many people like that. Come to find out that Bobby was born in Oklahoma and raised in the Texas panhandle. I was born out by the panhandle on the Oklahoma side. His dad coached football in Wheeler, my dad was working in an oil field in Wheeler when I was born. We'd both worked in oil fields. There are a lot of similarities in where we came from. We hit it right off like we'd known each other forever.
We sat down to write and he said, "There's never been a song written about a pump jack." Pump jacks are those black horse head-looking oil pumps. So this isn't a song where you wonder if anyone will play it. It's a song that needed to be written.
It's about the pipe dream mentality of wildcatting in the oil business. And it's just like any other addiction. These guys are gamblers. They just keep on saying I'll quit some day. The truth is, they could strike it big and they'd just go back and invest twice as much in it.
Burnin' Moonlight"br""i"Toby Keith/Dean Dillon/Scotty Emerick"br" I'm a night owl, like to party all night. When we're out running around I'll say that phrase sometimes. "Come on, let's get dinner over with and get out there. We're burnin' moonlight." This is another one I wrote with Dean and Scotty at the same time as "Get My Drink On." We went into the story of a couple who met years ago and had their first sexual experience together and even today it's still burning hot for them, which happens to very few. In this context, burning moonlight means they're making time and stealing away hours for each other at night.
It's very graphic in detail, "Jeans hit the floor and my cold bare feet pressed up against the door." Very well crafted. These kind of things happen when you've got three guys who've had the success we've had. Any line won't do when you've got three guys like us in a room.
Walk It Off
Toby Keith/Scotty Emerick
I went to Scotty with this idea. When you fall down and skin your knee they tell you to get up and walk it off. I've never heard a great version of it for when you get your heart broke. This has a very old style, poetic feel. It gets a little deep, maybe too deep for typical country fare. Is he talking to himself or is someone giving him this advice? You were born to run, so deal. At the end we close out with some wonderful lyrics. Not typical of what we do, so a breath of fresh air on the lyrics side. Very proud of it.
The whole first verse is talking about Jack Daniels, which is what I drink. Now here's this girl in miniskirt and heels. She bends of the table and "calmly sinks the eight ball in the corner pocket." She hit the shot, but there's another meaning there, too. Wiseman says that's how you dance around the edge all the time. He does that as well as anyone, but he blames it on me.