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Outspoken Toby Keith Shakes Up Industry
AP (via Yahoo) ^ | 5/16/2005 | John Gerome

Posted on 05/16/2005 9:42:16 PM PDT by andie74

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - He's tangled with Peter Jennings and the Dixie Chicks over his music, criticized the media for its coverage of the Iraq war, tweaked the Country Music Association over awards snubs and threatened to flee his record label.

Keith was at the Country Music Television offices last week to promote "Honkytonk University," his new CD out Tuesday, the same day he's up for the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award.

At 6-foot-4, the former oil field worker, rodeo hand and semipro football player doesn't so much enter an office as take it over. He's candid and talkative and doesn't seem to mind stepping on toes — anyone's.

This day, he's still sore about a February report in Rolling Stone magazine that referred to him as "the king of ultra-patriotic country" and said his 2004 concert tour — which brought in $27.7 million, second only to Shania Twain in country music — earned "mostly red state dollars."

"The truth is — and we looked it up — we made a lot more money in the blue states," says Keith, 43, wearing a weathered straw cowboy hat and yellow Western shirt. "We did more shows in the red states, but we made a lot more cash in the blue states."

Keith feels he's been unfairly portrayed by the media and his critics as a hardcore right winger. While he's backed the American troops in his songs and supported President Bush's re-election, he describes himself as a conservative Democrat who doesn't always agree with the administration.

Back in Oklahoma where he and his wife of 21 years, Tricia, live with their three children, he's campaigned for Democratic candidates including Gov. Brad Henry.

"I get brushed with this big, gigantic red, white and blue brush. But I don't mind," he says. "I look good in red, white and blue."

Keith's star shines brighter than most country artists, and he'll be the first to tell you so. He's sold about 25 million albums with a sound rooted in the whiskey halls and beer joints of the Southwest.

Unlike most his peers, he writes just about everything he records. He says he can't imagine sifting through hundreds of songs to find a dozen or so that he likes and that reflect his personality. His hits include the hawkish anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" — a song inspired by his father's death in a car accident in 2000 as well the 9-11 terrorist attacks — the boozy "I Love This Bar," the patriotic "American Soldier" and the chest-thumping "How Do You Like Me Now?"

The new album, "Honkytonk University," has a harder country edge. There's an old-school duet with his musical hero Merle Haggard, "She Ain't Hooked on Me No More," and a mid-tempo tune called "Big Blue Note" about a guy who finally comes to peace with a Dear John letter. The second single, "As Good As I Once Was," is a rumination on growing older and wiser.

The release of that single symbolizes Keith's frustration with his record company.

He left Mercury Records in 1999 because he was upset with the way his music was being handled. He went to DreamWorks, then an independent label, and became a superstar. Last year Dreamworks was acquired by Universal Music Group Nashville, which has Mercury under its umbrella.

"As fate would have it, in the end the little independent label I'm on that's $27 million in the hole when I walk in and it sells for $100 million four years later because of what we accomplish — who do they sell to? I go right back to the hell hole I was in at first."

Keith said he approached things with an open mind but ran into trouble with the single. He wanted "As Good As I Once Was" to be the first one for radio; the folks at Universal, he says, thought it was too risky and chose the title cut.

"I had put out four or five albums without one A&R meeting. We put out what we wanted and it worked. So why would I have to change?" he says. "At this point in my career I'm not going to put up with it."

While he won't rule out a distribution deal with the music giant, Keith said, "Universal knows where they stand. I've got one more album (to fulfill his contract). After that, the next album is going to be on my label — period."

Universal Music Group Nashville declined to comment Monday, but Billboard magazine reported that at the March radio industry conference where Keith made his remarks, UMGN co-chairman Luke Lewis said, "To (Keith) I say, 'Good luck.' The track record of artists running record labels is not that good."

Asked last week about Lewis' comment, Keith quipped, "Ask him if he wants to bet paychecks."

By starting his own label, Keith wants to move closer to the business side of music and, perhaps, farther from the artist side. He says he'll focus on signing songwriters, whom he believes are the forgotten backbone of country music.

"I'm trying to bring the song back and make songwriters into artists more so," he said. "The industry has forgot the song itself. They try to find the song and then attach it to a pretty face so it works on video."

What you probably won't find Keith doing, despite his strong opinions, is entering politics.

"I couldn't tick off the line. My dad called it 'glad-handing' — walk up and smile and shake their hand whether you like them or not. If I don't like you, I don't like you. I don't want to come up and shake your hand."

TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: countrymusic; tobykeith
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To: andie74

I really liked Toby's "Unleashed" CD, and most of his stuff before that, but for the past three years his songs have seemed uninspired. I think he's just phoning it in until his contract is up.

(Of course, his songs continue to be huge hits, so maybe I'm the idiot...)

41 posted on 05/16/2005 10:59:12 PM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (Somos un país soberano en una época de guerra. ¿Por qué no podemos defender nuestra frontera?)
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To: andie74

I know many dems of his ilk. Oh that the party leadership was likewise so inclined...

42 posted on 05/16/2005 11:02:22 PM PDT by Frumious Bandersnatch
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To: texasbluebell
Oh, Thank You! I get CMT, but no CBS. (Thank You, Lord!!) Popped over there for a second and it looks like I might get it! Thank you so much, texasbluebell!!
43 posted on 05/16/2005 11:03:04 PM PDT by used2BDem (Navy Vet (Navy Mom))
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To: andie74

Big Red, White, and Blue bump for later enjoyment.

44 posted on 05/16/2005 11:03:53 PM PDT by MissouriConservative (Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.)
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To: used2BDem

This is fun too.

You can click on this to watch his videos, they've got most that I've seen on tv. Click on "more videos" -- they've got "My List" here.

Just click on the video link, it's great to just watch them sometimes.

45 posted on 05/16/2005 11:06:24 PM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: andie74; Jim Robinson
Thanks for fixin' up this song, Jim. I made a couple of change too.

We got winners; we got losers;
Chain smokers and boozers.
An' we got yuppies; we got bikers;
An' we got, thirsty hitchhikers.
And the girls next door dress up like movie stars:
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I love FR.
We got cowboys; we got truckers;
Broken hearted fools and suckers.
An' we got husslers; we got fighters;
Early birds and all nighters.
And the veterans talk about their battle scars:
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I love FR.

I love FR,
It's my kind place.
Just loggin' on each morning,
Puts a big smile on my face.
It ain't too far; come as you are.
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I love FR.

I've seen short skirts; we've got high-techs;
Blue collar boys and rednecks.
An' we got lovers; lots of lookers;
I've even seen dancin' girls and hookers.
And we like to drink our beer from a mason jar:
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I love FR, yes I do!

I like my truck, (I like my truck),
An' I like my girlfriend, (I like my girlfriend),
I like to take her out to dinner;
I like a movie now and then:

But I love FR,
It's my kind place.
Just refreshin' the latest posts,
Puts a big smile on my face.
No cover charge; come as you are.
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I love this FR.
Mm, mm, mmm, mmm, mmm, I just love this ol' FR

46 posted on 05/16/2005 11:09:04 PM PDT by Syncro
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To: andie74

...And freedom flies!!!....

47 posted on 05/16/2005 11:10:34 PM PDT by Route101
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To: Darkwolf

Perhaps he looked up the numbers because Rolling Stone brought it up, and it didn't sound right to him. Perhaps it was just fun to prove RS wrong.

48 posted on 05/16/2005 11:24:29 PM PDT by skr (May God bless those in harm's way and confound those who would do the harming)
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To: texasbluebell

Toby you are definately THE MAN.....
Thanks very much

49 posted on 05/16/2005 11:26:51 PM PDT by injin
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

Dang, ya just had to bring that up. Yet, I was only tryin' to reference their similar music and the music industry b-s. You did read the thread article, right? I liked hearin' that Toby ain't gonna Nashville-package anymore or any longer. How 'bout you? Toby is a dem and Willie is also. Willie played the game longer than most, then said... Heck, if someone has been a conservative since G-d first knew 'em, then glory to 'em... never made that promise, myself. How ya feel about Emmy Lou or the Greatest Folks of Country Music? They were are all dem's. the by, the jane fonda reference is outta line.

50 posted on 05/16/2005 11:40:46 PM PDT by Treader (Hillary's dark smile is reminiscent of Stalin's inhuman grin...)
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To: andie74
Toby Keith is a Zell Miller Democrat. He backed Bush's re-election but he doesn't always agree with its policies. He's an outstanding American as well as a terrific country music singer.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
51 posted on 05/16/2005 11:49:11 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: texasbluebell
Ohhhhh yeahh....

52 posted on 05/17/2005 1:40:54 AM PDT by Sweet_Sunflower29 (Illegal immigration - the trojan horse that's treated like a sacred cow)
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To: Darkwolf
"earned "mostly red state dollars." "The truth is — and we looked it up — we made a lot more money in the blue states,"

Nothing against him, but I'm weary of this kind of silly stuff. Why would he look up such a stupid statistic

too counter the lies that were spread about him... you see the only way to battle the libs is to use a little thing called facts.

otherwise you let the enemy define you. He's great for getting in their face and kicking their a@#.

53 posted on 05/17/2005 3:43:01 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: Syncro

Very good, send it on to Toby.

54 posted on 05/17/2005 4:01:25 AM PDT by OKIEDOC (LL THE)
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To: andie74


55 posted on 05/17/2005 4:02:18 AM PDT by Guenevere (Sola Gratia)
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To: andie74
UMGN co-chairman Luke Lewis said, "To (Keith) I say, 'Good luck.' The track record of artists running record labels is not that good."

Couldn't stop after just the Good luck, could ya?


56 posted on 05/17/2005 4:04:08 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: Dan from Michigan
And until recently, there were a lot of conservative democrats in Michigan...

Dan, here in south Georgia, until Reagan came along, you could not run for office and have a prayer of winning without the "D" beside your name.

Back when I got involved in politics- 1964- the area was probably 80% Democrat. That said, it wasn't as bad as you might think- the Dems around here in those days were strong supporters of the military, advocates for the 2nd amendment, and generally understood the importance of the Bill of Rights.

Unlike the new breed which has displaced them, they were not enemies of America or the average American. I long for the days of Sam Nunn, Scoop Jackson, and Pat Moynihan.

57 posted on 05/17/2005 4:04:25 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an Undocumented Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trackball into the Sunset...)
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To: andie74
"Again, the (Democrat) party left them..."

Work in NYC; most of my liberal friends can't fathom that a lot of Dem's of yesteryear used to be what the Repubs are today.

They call me far Right Wing Christian conservative; I just state the everything moved left while I've stayed anchored. It is hard for them to fathom that many Dem senators were conservative Christians not to long ago.

Some of the more open minded one's, who are willing to look at history, are starting to see the light. One of them even appears to understand how dangerous the Newsweek lie is.

I may not convert them; but maybe shining a little light on their world naivety and ignorance may lead them to make some better informed decisions.
58 posted on 05/17/2005 4:26:41 AM PDT by PigRigger (Send donations to
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To: andie74
Ala Waylon, Willie and the Boys (Outlaws)
59 posted on 05/17/2005 4:32:37 AM PDT by WKB (You can half the good and double the bad people say about themselves.)
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To: backhoe

Scoop Jackson, how I admired him in my early years.

He was one of the last of the great old-style dems, wasn't he?

Those days are sadly gone.

60 posted on 05/17/2005 7:30:02 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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