For many years, on my late, lamented Colorado-based radio show, Damaged
Hearing, whenever I felt like especially annoying the decidedly
unpatriotic community-radio audience, I would sing along, loud and
proud, to Oklahoma-born Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”
the more I would sing along to the song, the more I committed it to memory, and it soon became my signature
karaoke song. And then so did “I Love This Bar.” And then “Beer for My
Horses.” And before I knew it, I was a full-blown, completely unironic,
defend-his-music-to-the-death Toby Keith fan.
Let’s be honest: Toby Keith (and his songwriters) can write a damn catchy tune. Nearly every single gets stuck in your head as you hear it blasting on Ford Truck Spring Sell-A-Bration commercials.
On his 16th (!) studio album, Hope on the Rocks, the sustaining theme is drinking, drinking and more drinking. The surprisingly depressing title cut opens, playing like a Nashville variation of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” with a late-shift bartender listing off the various sexual sins and financial debacles of his customers.
“The Size I Wear” is a about a waitress who is, apparently, the size he wears, presumably in the throes of sexual intercourse. “I Like the Girls Who Drink Beer” is self-explanatory and hyper-hooky, making me see his point of view in the values of ladies who overimbibe on brews, while “Haven’t Had a Drink All Day” make me feel like a total jerk for not being a pot-smoking truck driver.
Finally, “Cold Beer Country” would’ve been the perfect good-time summer drinkin’ song if Keith didn’t already have one with “Red Solo Cup.”
Hope on the Rocks is no masterpiece, but it’s as fun as sitting in your garage, downing an ice-cold sixer while half-working on that old truck as the hot, half-naked cowgirl poster on the wall tips her Stetson knowingly to you.
Of course, this is nothing I have ever done personally, but, you know, the spirit is there, and it’s the spirit that matters. Pour me another one, Tobes. —Louis Fowler