If it’s got three letters, he’s won it: CMAs, ACMs, AMAs – Country icon Toby Keith joined RADIO.COM for an exclusive chat and performance this week, hosted by RADIO.COM’s Jesse Addy.
“Well, I made to the Hall of Fame as a songwriter, so… I’m old enough to be a legend,” says Toby humbly when asked if he considers himself one of the greats in his genre.
Toby, along with his Show Dog label mates Waterloo Revival were kind enough to give us a little guitar-pull and answer some burning questions as we all await a return to normal life outside our homes.
Make no mistake, when Toby comes to town, it’s the highlight of every Country fans’ summer. But with the current pandemic still sweeping the globe, all of that has been put on hold. Coming to us virtually from his Oklahoma estate, Toby admits it has been somewhat of a welcome break. “Believe it or not, it’s really not been too bad for us to work like that,” he says about the live music pause. “I was in Cabo from March 15th to late May, and then I came back here, came to the lake house and I’ve been fishing, and getting out on the water, and playing golf. It’s really been a nice breather to hit the reset button.”
It’s not all fun and games though. Toby says he’s constantly at work writing songs, and the free time has given him even more chances to get songs out of his head and into the record studio.
“Normally I run just a couple day a week and when I run, I have a lot of songs going through my head,” he says of his creative process, still firing on all cylinders. “I’ve been getting up earlier because we’re not staying out as late. So, you’re running, you’re writing more… You know, I’m accomplishing my career stuff, but it’s been a nice reset.”
Those creative sparks could come at any moment for an artist. As for Toby, that could be on the golf course or out on the lake with a fish on the line – so what does he do, write it down?
Not a chance. “I never write anything down,” he says.
“If it’s good enough to stay with me… I mean I’ve probably lost hundreds of ideas that probably could have been good ones, but once I get it in my head it’s like it’s on the hook and it just starts circling the boat until I land it.”
“I go through life, I absorb life, and when it comes time to write, all that stuff surfaces… Then I’ll just put it on my voice recorder on my phone. That way you’ve got that big piece that you feel like is magic, so you don’t forget some little piece of it.”
Just this past weekend was Flag Day in the United States, a commemoration that means quite a bit to Toby as the son of a military veteran, and in the light of anti-authority protests happening in cities coast-to-coast, he thinks “2020 needs to take a pause,” as well.
“After having a father who served, and all the things he instilled in his kids, and his family; the way he respected it,” he explains, “I have so much respect for the military. When I see the flag I just think of the military. They’re the reason that we get to live in this wonderful country. They’ve served in so many conflicts to save the world, not just America but to save the world. It represents the leader, we are the leaders of the free world.”
“That flag, to me after doing one show for the USO way back in early 2000 to honor my father, I saw such a void, that it had become kind of uncool to go and do what Bob Hope and the USO has done for so long. I saw that void and they said ‘we’ll take you every single time we can get you.’”
“For eleven years now, I think we’ve done over 200-something shows, met so many people, and they wear that on their arm. That flag is on the sleeve of their fatigues, and when I see that it automatically makes me proud to be a supporter of the military.”
Finally, as we continue to social distance and wear face coverings in public spaces, Toby and his team have stepped up accordingly. After getting a call from FEMA, his wife and daughters’ golf clothing company SwingDish helped to create and donate PPE to frontline workers, as well as fans who would like to purchase with proceeds supporting The Toby Keith Foundation’s OK Kids Korral which encourages the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients.
Show Dog label mates Waterloo Revival are currently celebrating the release of their brand new single "Something You Ain't Ever Had" and gave us an acoustic performance that certainly sold us on why Toby is such a big fan.
Stay tuned for more exclusive performances from RADIO.COM.