Toby Keith’s High Praise for Jimmy Buffett

"He's As Good As It Gets," Keith Says

Making Jimmy Buffett jealous has to be very high on every songwriter’s bucket list. And it sounds like Toby Keith is no exception.

In an interview with, Keith talked about how singing with Buffett was always on his list, but even better was finding out that he loves his new song “Rum Is the Reason.”

“He said he wished he’d written it,” Keith said of his friend’s response. “And he’s as good as it gets.”

Keith wrote the new song with longtime collaborator Scotty Emerick, who I had the honor of sitting next to when Keith’s team played the song for me before it was released.

“We had this idea that rum is the reason that pirates didn’t rule the world. So I said, ‘If pirates are known for rum, who would be known for whiskey?’ Whiskey comes from Tennessee, so I thought, ‘Davy Crockett,’” Keith recalled of the song’s beginning. “And then the song started falling together. Tequila and Poncho Villa. Hitler drank beer, and Stalin probably drank some kind of vodka. And so we started having fun with it, and we kept coming back to the idea that rum is the reason that pirates didn’t rule the world.”

Because the song had a Caribbean sound to it, Keith called Mac McAnally — an essential player in Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band — and asked him to bring the band to play on the song.

“And he turned the Reefers loose, and put on the real steel drums. I didn’t want to have a synthesized steel drum from a keyboard, so we bought the real cats in,” Keith said.

While the Coral Reefers bring that Buffett sound to this song, Buffet himself sings with Keith on the new album’s “Sailboat for Sale.”

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