Music

Toby Keith Sees Political Discourse as a Losing Game

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In a recent interview with the LA Times, Toby Keith opened up about how his post-9/11 image limits public perceptions of him as an artist.

On different ends of the political spectrum, songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (Angry American)”  make Keith a representation of certain ideologies. For some, it’s commendable. For others, insufferable. Neither view paints a full or fair picture of the 56-year-old’s musical output.

“The stuff you read in the headlines, it’s just one or two things out of 70 or 80 charted singles,” Keith says in the interview. “If you was to ask some of the people that would portray me that other way, they wouldn’t have any idea that Who’s That Man was number one (in 1994) and that the greatest songwriter in Nashville, Harlan Howard, came up to me at the BMI Awards when I was a kid and said, ‘Son, that song you’ve got on the radio is the best song I’ve heard in 10 years.'”

Keith explained that clearing the air about issues involving the politics leaves him prone to misguided fans or detractors. “You’re never gonna reach enough people in any interview to avoid being misrepresented,” he says.

Further, he finds that pretty much any question about a hot-button issue is a loaded question. “Whatever topic they come up with, they know how they want me to answer it,” he says. “Whether they’re for it or against it or whether they believe like I do, they say, ‘I’m gonna ask this question because I think I know how he’ll answer it.’ And then when you don’t, they’re like, ‘What the hell?'”

To drive home his lack of answers for hot-button issues, Keith briefly touched on something very divisive. “It’s like one of the biggest struggles that I have on abortion is abortion,” he says. “In my heart I don’t like it. But in my mind I agree with a lot of the situations where it should be. I understand [the well-being of] the mother. And somebody says, ‘Hey, a 12-year-old got raped by a convict — you want her to carry that baby?’ It’s such a big, gray world, and with those issues like that — I know how I feel inside, but I don’t know how to fix none of them. I’m not that guy.”

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Toby Keith Sees Political Discourse as a Losing Game