Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Music: Toby Keith

In my second installment of Oklahoma artists as part of my series based on Oklahoma's Centennial, Toby Keith, who grew up in Moore, Oklahoma (a southern suburb of Oklahoma City), has become a legend for his crossover country hits.

He played football for the University of Oklahoma for one game. He got hurt on his first play on the field and had to be helped off. Maybe he was thinking about that experience when he wrote this first song; or maybe he was just singing for all of us aging Baby Boomers.

As Good As I Once Was

The song that really vaulted him to the top of the charts was his song Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American). The song got him into a little bit of a conflict with the Dixie Chicks. You might get the impression from this song that he is some sort of right-wing Republican. Many Republican candidates for public office have the same impression and ask him for support in their campaigns. But you would be wrong. From

"It's amazing how many Republicans call me for support. And then they go, 'You're a Republican right?' And you go, 'Well I'm actually a lifetime Democrat,'" he said. "And then they go, 'Oh, sorry.' And the Democrats want so bad — the real liberals really want to hate me. And then they go, 'I still hate you, but I can't believe you're a Democrat.' So I'm not a real political guy. I'm a very patriotic guy."

And you might get the impression for the song that he is rabidly pro-war, but again you would be wrong:

"When the Iraq war started, I was a little mad because we didn't finish what we started in Afghanistan," he said. "Our troops had to move on into Iraq. Our government asked them to go do it for whatever reason. We won't know for probably 20 or 30 years whether it was the right thing to do or not."

Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)

A real man's ode to our relationship with women:

I Wanna Talk About Me

Mr. Keith also owns a restaurant right in the most prime location on the canal in Oklahoma City's Bricktown. The restaurant is called I Love This Bar & Grill. It obviously was inspired somewhere by his hit I Love This Bar . I've eaten there a couple of times. The food is good and the atmosphere is too. When the restaurant opened, they featured local country artists several nights a week. I don't know if they still do (I'd go, but I'm honestly not much of a country music fan), but if you are ever in Bricktown in Oklahoma City, Toby Keith's restaurant is one you should seriously consider visiting. Toby Keith and his attitudes he sings about in his songs are consummately representative of attitudes you will find in Oklahoma.

You would think that his success would help him garner at least a little respect...but apparently not. In the CBS news interview linked above, he reiterated an experience his daughter had trying to join a sorority at the University of Oklahoma:

"Some sorority chick called my daughter a — said she shouldn't be in the sorority cause she's just white trash with money," Keith said. "And she laughed. And my wife was all upset. But I thought it was a great album title."

I know just what he is talking about; and the legal profession isn't completely immune from such prejudice. There are some within the legal profession (albeit rare) that feel that someone from my part of town (the other side of the railroad tracks) shouldn't get the same chance as those who went to the "right" schools. They think of me as "white trash with a law degree."

The funny thing is that I have never been part of that "beer-drinking" cowboy culture, but I identify with his daughter's experience. There are snobbish rich people everywhere who feel they are entitled due to their pedigree. Paris Hilton is starting to learn her lesson the hard way.

If only they could learn from my experiences. It's hard enough to work your way up from the bottom; you shouldn't have to worry about someone impeding you because they were born into money. It's not like they earned it. Maybe that's the problem. They have never bothered to walk a mile in our moccasins (or shoes, or boots as the case may be).

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