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Toby Keith

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Toby Keith


Toby Keith first gained national recognition in 1993 with his tongue-in-cheek No. 1 hit "Should've Been a Cowboy." Along with a slew of like-minded country artists, he was a part of the neo-traditionalist movement that was intent on wresting the radio waves from the slick pop product pushers of the time. In the late-1990s he released a string of country hits that showcased his deep vocals and decidedly uptown yet tasteful arrangements. Then shortly after the turn of the century, Keith reinvented himself as a controversial crooner of sorts after recording 2002's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," one of the first songs to cash in on the 9-11 tragedy with its vengeful lyrics promising that America would put a "boot in the ass" of the terrorists. The song was an instant hit with red state country music fans and compelled ABC News anchor Peter Jennings to protest Keith's appearance on a network Fourth of July special. Of course tons of media hoopla followed, giving Keith the kind of priceless promotion that propelled "Courtesy" into legendary crossover hit status. Since then, Keith has continued to crank out the kind of roadhouse honky-tonk country songs that he began his career with, but he also stuck with what made him the most money -- riling up angry right wing Americans. His 2003 album Shock'n Y'all (it sounds like "Shock And Awe" when you say it out loud) featured "The Taliban Song," which referred to Middle Eastern men as camel herders. In interviews, Keith dismisses these kinds of songs as "bus songs," tunes that he pens for fun, and were never meant to be released until his fans insisted. But not all of his "bus songs" are politically charged. Keith's "Weed With Willie" (also from Shock'n Y'all) makes light of Willie Nelson's love for incredibly strong marijuana and "Grain of Salt" from 2006's White Trash With Money serves as a tourist's tequila anthem.
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