Toby Keith has admitted that he’s “embarrassed” about his role in the feud between himself and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines. He told reporters at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday night (Oct. 29) that he disappointed himself by his active participation in the ongoing squabble.
“I’m embarrassed about the way I let myself get sucked into all of that,” he said prior to filming CMT Most Wanted Live at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. “I disappointed myself. I didn’t disappoint anybody else. Everybody else loved it. They wanted me to attack that. But I probably disappointed myself more than anything, because I’m better than that.”
Keith added, “It got pretty vicious sometimes, putting her and Saddam Hussein up on the screen. That was funny for a night or two, and then it was a little over the top for me. I’m not that mean. I just said, ’You know what? She’s getting kicked enough without me piling on.’ She would have got the same thing she got without me even saying a word. I’ll know better. I’ll learn something next time…. Maybe.”
Keith and Maines have battled since she criticized his song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” in the Los Angeles Daily News in August 2002. “I hate it. It’s ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture and not just the bad people who did bad things. You’ve got to have some tact. Anybody can write, ’We’ll put a boot in your ass.’ But a lot of people agree with it,” she said.
In December 2002, Keith told CMT.com, “By you asking me my opinion on what I think of what she said about me, that’s like asking Barry Bonds what he thought about what a softball player said about his swing. You don’t do that. She’s not a songwriter, so we can’t discuss the mechanics of the song. Why don’t you just go down on Second Avenue and pick one of those homeless guys and ask him what he thinks about it? To me it’s the same.”
Keith also projected a doctored image of Maines cuddling with Saddam Hussein on a large screen at several of his concerts.
Maines retaliated by wearing a hand-lettered T-shirt with the initials “F.U.T.K.” at the Academy of Country Music awards in May. That night, Keith won the entertainer of the year trophy, but later said he was writing a song with Willie Nelson when his name was called. Since then, neither side has taken a major shot at the other.