Not only is Toby Keith's striking new song "Don't Let the Old Man In" featured in Clint Eastwood's upcoming film The Mule, the tune was actually inspired by a conversation Keith had with the legendary actor.
The country star said he became friends with Eastwood when they met at a California golf course. Eventually, Eastwood invited Keith to be his partner during a three-day golf tournament at the actor's Tehema Golf Club. It was then that Eastwood, who had recently turned 88, told Keith about his upcoming film project.
"I [asked] 'What keeps you going?' and he said 'I get up every day and don't let the old man in.' And I went 'I'm writing this damn thing right now'," Keith said at a recent press conference. "I didn't ask if I could put it in the movie. I just went home and wrote it and sent it to him and hoped that he would consider it. And, you know, he did."
Keith said writing a song for an American icon like Eastwood was a tall order, but it also pushed him to write the best and most powerful song he could. The song also addresses the Eastwood-inspired ethos of continuing to create and never ceasing to do what inspires you.
"I knew who I was writing it for and I knew who had inspired me to write it. I wanted to deliver him the best thing that I could," Keith said. "The second I wrote it, it was just like I jumped 500 feet in the air...I knew I had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."
The Mule, directed by and starring Eastwood, follows a senior citizen man who becomes a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. The film will be released nationwide on Dec. 14.
Read More: The 10 Best Toby Keith Songs, Ranked
Keith is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of "Should've Been a Cowboy," his debut single and first No. 1 hit. The country star commemorated the smash hit this year with his Should've Been a Cowboy Tour XXV.
Keith will play the Grand Ole Opry on Friday (Dec. 7) and will he honored with the Nashville Symphony's Harmony award on Saturday (Dec. 8).