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Courtesy Of The Red,White And Blue
CBS News 60 Minutes II ^ | 10/29/2003 | Dan Rather [Interview]

Posted on 10/30/2003 6:25:49 AM PST by KriegerGeist

Courtesy Of The Red,White And Blue
CBS 60 Minutes II
Oct. 29, 2003

Toby Keith is not only one of the biggest stars in country music -- he may also be one of the most talked about, and argued about. He has won legions of new fans by writing songs that are defiant, and defiantly patriotic.

But not everyone has liked what they heard – and he’s attracted a few high-profile enemies, including the Dixie Chicks’ lead singer, Natalie Maines.

None of that, however, has dimmed his luster. Next week, he is a favorite to win Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.

You could say his success has come, as his most famous song puts it, “courtesy of the red, white and blue.” But there’s more to it than that. Correspondent Dan Rather traveled with him this summer, and what he found is that his fans love everything about him.

Look around at a Toby Keith concert and you’ll see the America he sings about: blue-collar fans and families, proudly showing their colors and embracing the music that gives voice to the lives they live.

His point of view is that of a 6-foot-4, 240-pound Oklahoman. There’s God and country. There’s women and whiskey. And not necessarily in that order.

“As far extreme as I seem, I'm probably catching the average Joe in the middle better than anybody,” says Keith.

And to Toby Keith, the average Joe thinks just the way he does – and it’s all right there, in his music.

For a long time, record executives worried that women would be turned off by some of his songs.

“I was just told the other day that one of the executives in Nashville said that he can't believe and would have never thought that a woman would have liked anything that I ever had to say,” says Keith. “And our CD sales are driven by the female buyers. I don't do a lot of love songs or anything. But I think there's a void there that nobody ever touches on, and they're afraid to touch on. And I hit it right in the … it's in my wheelhouse.”

There are certainly those who would say that Keith is the quintessential macho man.

“But that's the guy that the girl wants. The girls always end up with the one that their mothers don't want them with. The rough cut guy's the guy they always go after,” says Keith, laughing. “I’m absolutely that guy.”

Keith, 42, was born in Oklahoma. The son of an Army veteran, he worked the Oklahoma oil fields after high school, and then played semi-pro football for a couple of seasons.

Singing in bars at night, he hit it big in 1993, with an instant, albeit conventional, country classic, “Should Have Been A Cowboy.” This song was played more than any other song on country radio during the 1990s.

But the song he is best known for is called “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” and he told 60 Minutes II that he wrote it in just 20 minutes, a week after 9/11.

He wrote it to play for troops on USO tours – something he often volunteers to do. He never intended to release the song on a CD, but then, he played it for Pentagon brass in Washington.

“He [the Marine Corp commandant] said, 'You have to release it. You can serve your country in other ways besides suiting up in combat.' We will go kick their butts. But we survive on morale,” says Keith. “I mean, we live on the morale. That's what we travel on. And, he said I highly recommend you put that song out.”

So he did, and Keith’s career was never the same. It’s been used as a battle cry by U.S. armed services in Iraq. Bombs were branded with it. One of the first tanks into Baghdad was, as well.

And none of that is lost on President Bush, who asked Keith to be his opening act several times this year.

But not everybody embraced the song. Weeks after “Angry American” was released, producers for ABC television asked Keith to perform on the Fourth of July concert, a show hosted by Peter Jennings.

“Then they come in, and start putting the show together. And Pete comes in and says, ‘Who is … who does this Toby Keith think he is? And he is not singing this song on my show,’” says Keith.

ABC disputes that Jennings said that. Instead, the problem, according to ABC, was that the network didn’t want to start the show with a song that, at times, can be very angry. For his part, Jennings was quoted as saying it was a pity about the Toby Keith issue. But that opening the show with Keith’s song “probably wouldn’t set the right tone.”

“I thought it was hilarious. My statement was, ‘Isn't he Canadian?’ to a bunch of press. They laughed and then I said, ‘Well, I bet Dan Rather wouldn't kick me off his show,’” says Keith.

Rather responded: “And I'm not gonna be a hypocrite, you wouldn't want me to. I like Peter, he's a good guy.”

“Well, I don't like him and I'll be honest with you, too,” says Keith.[That’s sure telling it straight]

Keith also ran into a problem with the Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines. Months before Maines said she was embarrassed that George Bush was from Texas. She also said that the song, “Angry American” made country music sound ignorant.

Keith fired back at his concerts, projecting an image of Maines and Saddam Hussein on a giant screen. It turned out to be an all-out country music feud that lasted for months, and got him a lot of attention.

Since Keith released “Angry American,” he has never been more famous or wealthy. This year alone, he will personally gross more than $45 million from his music.

What does he think about his battle with Maines? “If my career keeps going the way it’s going, I’m going to hire her as my publicity agent,” says Keith, laughing.

The success he’s enjoying will put the finishing touches on his massive spread outside Norman, Okla., and pay for the more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses he’s raising. Horse racing, he says, is his retirement plan: “You know that at some point, you're not going to be, you know, the new flavor of the year or something. And horse racing is a great thing to fall back on.”

For now though, he’ll be busy promoting – or shall we say – explaining his newest album, due out next week. It’s called "Shock 'N Y'all," and it contains more controversial songs, including “The Taliban Song.”

“I’m just a middle-aged, middle Eastern camel-herdin’ man. I got a two-bedroom cave here in northern Afghanistan…So we prayed to Allah with all of our might and then those big U.S. jets come flyin’ in one night. They dropped little bombs all over our holy land and man you shoulda seen ‘em run, like rabbits, they ran: the Taliban.”

“Now, the Taliban song is a funny song. It's about a peace-loving Afghanistan man who's trying to get out of Afghanistan while the Taliban evening news report is telling everybody to remain calm,” says Keith. "'We've got everything under control.’ And he's like, ‘BS, I'm out of here.’"

What does he have to say to those who believe the song is anti-Islam, anti-Muslim, and angry and arrogant in its nature?

“You could say a lot of those topics you just covered there … you could say that about any of my songs,” says Keith, laughing. “That is the reason that they don't like us, because we are so American. So, you know, that the gifts that we have here and the freedoms that we have here are … is the one thing that makes the militants as mad as they are -- at us anyway. And that's everything I sing about.”

Keith says his success has made him a target, but his critics won’t silence him. He’s making a lot of money making a lot of noise. And he says his music and his message resonate with many people across this country -- from his native Oklahoma to New York City.

“You know, until I became very successful, I didn't get these hits. So the higher you fly, the bigger targets you make. And I can take that,” says Keith. “And I'll be there every time. If you, if they need me to respond, I’ll be that guy because I'm not gonna lay down. And I'm not gonna shut up.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: 60minutesii; angryamerican; award; cbs; cma; countrymusic; redwhiteblue; tobykeith
This was a really great interview in my opinion...especially what he said about Peter Jennings.
1 posted on 10/30/2003 6:25:50 AM PST by KriegerGeist
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To: Geist Krieger
American girls and American guys will always stand up and salute;
Will always recognize
When we see ol' glory flying,
There's a lot of men dead,
So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our head.

My daddy served in the army,
Where he lost his right eye.
But he flew a flag out in our yard 'til the day that he died.
He wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me
To grow up and live happy in the land of the free.

Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack.
A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back.
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.

Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
It's gonna feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you...
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!

Oh, Justice will be served and the battle will rage.
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A
'Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way.

Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
And it'll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you...
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!

2 posted on 10/30/2003 6:30:10 AM PST by BenLurkin (Socialism is Slavery)
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To: Geist Krieger
What a true patriot he really is. G-d bless toby keith!
3 posted on 10/30/2003 6:51:33 AM PST by hoosierboy
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To: Geist Krieger
I watched this last night and was thrilled to see Tobey stickin' to his guns. He never backed down from the commie Rather. He gave better than he got. Tobey Kieth never forgot where he came from and makes no apologies for it! Unlike the Dixie Chicks who pretty much gave their fan base the finger. Ole Cledu T Judd has a new parody out about the Dixie commies, it's funnier than hell.
4 posted on 10/30/2003 6:55:44 AM PST by sean327 (Gun control=Good sight picture, and good sight alignment.)
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To: BenLurkin
Man we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.

That's my favorite line.

5 posted on 10/30/2003 7:04:09 AM PST by BSunday (I'm not the bad guy)
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To: Geist Krieger
As the piece began, my Doveish wife said that the powers that be had kept Toby from singing the 9/11 song on USO tours. I corrected her and said it was Pete Jennings who'd nixed it on an ABC show. She was about to argue with me when that part of the segment hit. Great timing.

Note the swipe at Keith's fans as "blue-collar." As any demographer knows, Country Music has a wide-spectrum appeal, not just blue collar. And Toby has a strong appeal to many women, which appalls my Doveish wife. I think if I told her that the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things, she'd have a coronary.


6 posted on 10/30/2003 7:14:22 AM PST by Wright is right! (Never get excited about ANYTHING by the way it looks from behind.)
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