OFFSTAGE: Toby Keith on Roger Miller, John Prine and Warmongers

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Forgive me for not getting this Toby Keith story from last week’s The New York Times to you sooner. I just didn’t quite know how to wrap it up. Is it a story about Keith finding the songs in everyday conversations? Yes. Is it about his love of America without being what he calls a “right-wing lunatic warmonger”? A little bit. Is it about John Prine? Kind of. So I’ll just say this: Read it and draw your own conclusions. “Writing songs and looking for ideas is like blinking my eyes. It’s an involuntary muscle. I do it without thought. If I hear a conversation and somebody says something intriguing, my first thought is, is that a song,” he says. And as for the patriotic stuff he’s done, he doesn’t think it’s gone too far. “Whatever happened to being able to support our military and thank them without being a right-wing lunatic warmonger?” he asks. But the best part is at the end, when he’s asked what songwriter — dead or alive — he ‘d like to have a daylong tutorial with. First, he picks the late Roger Miller. Then says, “The bravest, most fearless songwriter of them all is still alive, and his name is John Prine. A lot of us like to say we don’t care, but John Prine really don’t care. He does what he wants to do, and if you like it, fine, and if you don’t like it, that’s even more fine.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.