Toby Keith’s new CD, Big Dog Daddy, arrived in stores Tuesday (June 12) and will, in all likelihood, debut next week at the top of the country charts. That’s just the way it is when you’ve reached that level of superstardom.
The title track was inspired by his response to a new F-450 pickup introduced by his longtime corporate sponsor, Ford Trucks. When he saw it the first time at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, his immediate reaction was, “Now, that is a big dog daddy!” As far as the song itself, Keith acknowledges, “It’s what every guy thinks he is when he goes out to party at night. You know, all the women gotta have you, and all the guys envy you, and your posse is bigger than everybody else’s.”
Keith will be calling attention to the album with appearances Tuesday on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Wednesday (June 13) on Jimmy Kimmel Live, followed by stops next week at The Colbert Report, The View and The Early Show.
During a recent interview in Las Vegas by CMT Insider’s Katie Cook, Keith talked about the new project and how he’s still misunderstood by some political pundits. The following is an excerpt from the conversation:
You produced this album by yourself. What does that mean to you?
Keith: I’ve had co-producers since my second album. Way back in ’94, I started co-producing. I didn’t produce the first album, but from then on, I co-produced. And you get lazy, and you get the kind of the songs you want recorded — the songs that are going to go on the album. And while they’re doing all the little tedious stuff like background vocals and overdubs, you can kind of pull away from it. … So three years after an album’s out, I would hear little things that the average person wouldn’t hear. And I’d go, “Wow, I wish I had a Dobro here, a background vocal there and a drum fill here. Just little things that you want tweaked up. So [on the new album] I fine-tuned this engine all the way to the very end. I stayed in and was the cook. I cooked it down and made it. It could have been bad, but I wanted to experiment. I wanted to stay on my own … and I did, and I couldn’t be more happy with it.
This has been a lot of work though — producing an album, writing the songs, being the artist and launching your own record label. You also made your first movie. Was it hard to find the time to do everything?
Probably the most busy was when I was starting the label and I was doing the movie, Broken Bridges. I also put the White Trash With Money album out. … It was a little overwhelming, but now all that’s passed. I’ve had time on this one to just concentrate on the album. I didn’t have a bunch of other things going on. My label is running really fine. … I had time to go into the studio and just sit down and concentrate and do it. And I feel like we knocked it out. I really love this album. I don’t usually listen to my albums, and I actually listen to this one.
You sang your own background vocals?
That was neat, too. … “High Maintenance Woman” is one of them. I sing the background vocals on it. And it’s like sibling harmony. It’s really neat to hear yourself sing with yourself. It gave it a new sound. If you listen to it, it’s a different blend.
You typically write everything you sing, but there are a couple of songs on the album that you didn’t write — one of them being “Love Me If You Can.” What drew you to this song?
Craig Wiseman wrote “Love Me If You Can,” and it’s probably been on hold several times. I think that in the controversial, politically-correct world that we live in today — with the right wing/left wing, red state/blue state going on and all that nonsense — people probably shied away from this song. … I didn’t cut it just because it was a great song. I cut it because, word for word, it tells exactly where I’m coming from. People mislabel me. … They don’t find out enough about you, and they just stereotypically take shots at you. ….
I first and foremost support America. And I support Team USA wherever we are in the world. This is the best country in the world. So as you support that, people start thinking you are a leaning little bit to the right. OK, but then you go, “But I’m a lifetime Democrat.” … Then the right wingers all come in and go, “Turncoat! You support the war, but you’re a turncoat.” … So you can’t win from either side. So not only do I take it from the left, I take it from the right.
But I do stand for what I think is right. I don’t see the world right and left. I see it right and wrong. … I do sometimes think war is necessary, but I do pray for peace on earth every night. I do give my dollars to the homeless, but I do think every able soul should have to work. And, you know, “Love me if you want to, hate me if you want to, love me if you can.” And if you can’t, tough it. Too bad. … But I’m not gonna falter from my path of what I think is right or wrong. I don’t see the world right and left. And I’m not a political guy. I hate politics.
Yeah, I hate the way they rope me into all that stuff, but it’s part of it. When you take a stand, they’re gonna paint you right or left.
“Love Me If You Can” sounds like a song you could have written yourself.
You watch my lifestyle — and it’s not very conservative! (laughs)
Another song on the album, “Walk It Off,” is not exactly what we would expect from you lyrically.
It’s a real blues song. And I don’t mean blues, as in R&B blues. I mean, it is the color blue. It’s really dark, and it’s really, really blue. … I would really love to hear Merle Haggard cut this song. It’s taking the term “walk it off,” when somebody falls down and hurts themselves, and you say, “Get up, and walk it off.” Well, we wrote this using the song as somebody who’s had their heart broken: “Hey buddy, get up, and walk it off. You’ve brought this on yourself. It’s broken. She’s gone, she ain’t coming back. So get up and walk it off.” And it’s really dark in the way it’s written and the chord changes. And I think when you hear it, you’ll see how blue it really is. Blue is a great word for it.
It seems you are very happy in all aspects of your career. Is it as good to be Toby Keith as it seems right now?
I would be completely greedy to ask for one more thing. I’m completely enjoying the ride and having everything my way.