Some folks are wondering why I have such a poison pen for their hero. They can’t believe I would compare Toby Keith’s winning a songwriter of the decade award to an apocalypse.
(And by the way, where was Kanye West when we needed someone to yank an award out somebody’s hand?)
Toby is probably a swell guy. I’ve never met him. But you either like entertainers or you don’t based on what they show you.
Toby came onto my radar when I first heard him on the radio back in the early 1990s. He had some decent songs like “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” and “A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action.” Nothing too inspiring, just fun country-rock. I liked him fine.
Then the songs got worse and worse. And then, somehow, they got even worse. His release of “How Do You Like Me Now?” in 1998 marked a low point in country music. Or so I thought, until he released “I Wanna Talk About Me” the following year.
Yes, I understand those records made money and people loved them and he had hits with them, but there is no accounting for taste among the masses, particularly when it comes to country music. If that makes me sound conceited, or like I think I have better taste than most people, well, so be it. Explain massive hits songs like “Achey Breaky Heart” and “Elvira” to me and maybe I’ll understand better.
Anyhoo, back to this decade’s greatest songwriter:
Eventually, Keith made up for his lack of musical inspiration by becoming the Post-9/11 Super Patriot who’s gonna “shock and y’all” and stick his boot up some ferner’s ass, by God. It wreaked of exploitation to me. The mad rush among entertainers to record post-9/11 patriotic songs, particularly among country musicians, made me want to hurl.
I’m a big fan of Willie Nelson, who sang a song with Keith and toured with him and did a music special and video and whatnot. So there is surely plenty that I don’t know about Keith and he’s probably a good guy or why would Willie be wasting time on him?
But again I only know what I see and hear, and what I saw and heard of Keith was a turn off. Even his novelty song about smoking weed with Willie on the bus seemed exploitative (and not very funny).
Keith’s feud with the Dixie Chicks was kind of the icing on the cake for me. I’ve never been much of a Dixie Chicks fan but what they said about President Bush was harmless, it was their right to say it, and it was a completely American thing to do — bitch about politicians. Whether they said it in America or on a European stage doesn’t matter.
So anyway, all these things are why I equate his songwriter of the decade award with the apocalypse. Now that I think about it, I was too kind. I somehow understated the situation. Surely there is something worse than world obliteration to serve as a more appropriate comparison.