Wednesday, April 8, 2009


In the 90s, while all the cool kids were listening to Pearl Jam, Oasis, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, I was into Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and Trisha Yearwood. By the time Garth "retired" in 2001 I was over my country phase; I found that when I turned to a country station I could feel my IQ drop 20 points as I listened to lyrics that lauded getting drunk, kicking ass, and chasing women with big knockers. I felt like country music lost its heart sometime around 2001 and I started tuning in to my area's rock station instead. There I discovered Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Offspring--better late than never, I suppose.

And I have Toby Keith to thank for that.

The song that almost single-handedly turned me off of country music was TK's "Angry American (Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue)." September 11 shook me and angered me and made me cry out for terrorist blood as much as any American, but the first time I heard Toby Keith sing, "We'll put a boot in your ass/It's the American way", I wanted to vomit. Way to turn a national tragedy into a bar fight, Toby. I changed the channel every time it came on the radio, so I changed off of country stations a lot in late 2001/early 2002. It broke my country music habit fairly conclusively. The only "country" albums I've bought since then (and since country disowned them, their status as such is debatable) have been the last 2 Dixie Chicks albums.

Since the Angry American song, I've grown to hate the music of Toby Keith with a white-hot fury felt before only for Duke basketball and slang words for female genitalia. When he and Natalie Maines of the Chicks got into a war of words after that whole "the Dixie Chicks disrespected the President" kerfluffle, I really wanted to follow Natalie's lead and wear a "FUTK" t-shirt. "Friendship, unity, togetherness, and kindness" indeed.

Which is why I stand before you today a conflicted woman. The Toby Keith Track Pack was released for Rock Band this week, and it presents a dilemma. To download, or not to download? Because, behind my hate, there may just be a little love.

Back in 2006 when I got my Vibe, it came with one of those car stereos that shows the title and artist of songs playing on certain radio stations (yeah, I know that's not exactly new technology, but it was new to me.) One day I gave country a shot and a song I really liked came on. I started singing along, then realized...oh, no. Could it be? Sure enough: Toby Keith's early hit "Should've Been a Cowboy." And that's one of the songs in the track pack.

Then there's his duet with Willie, "Beer For My Horses." Which should be a lot of fun to play and sing after my own horses, I mean friends, have had some beer. (Jason in particular used to like to go around the house imitating this one after seeing Toby and Willie do it on some award show; hearing him sing it "for real" should be priceless.) So I'll have to download that one.

There's also "I Love This Bar", which my friends will want to play since they went to Toby's restaurant in Vegas and discovered that every time this song gets played the whole house gets free shots. They have fond and slightly slurred memories of their time in Mr. Keith's bar (which they recommended Jason and I go to in Vegas, and which I thought about, but not even a free tequila shot could get me to agree to go in, and that's saying something.) So I'll probably need to buy that one.

But here's the kicker: "How Do You Like Me Now?" Grrrr. I don't know if there are words to express my loathing for this self-important ditty. Oh, yeah, there are. How do I like you now, Mr. Keith? Well, if I were the girl you're still a little stung over rejecting you in high school, I would say...once a d-----bag, always a d-----bag. A house full of CMA awards and all the riches in the world don't fix that ailment. And writing her number and "Call for a good time" on the 50-yard-line? Not cool. Most girls would be humiliated, not flattered. Don't give yourself so much credit for that smooth move, and don't think the girl is a snob for rejecting that advance. Had you written her a song and performed it on the 50 yard line and she laughed in your face, well, that might be worthy of your scorn. But otherwise...grow up, dude. She just wasn't that in to you.


It could be fun to sing these songs by a performer whose work I hate. I could love fake-drumming or singing or guitarring them even though I hate listening to them. Or I could be a complete sell-out going against my principals. I would never buy a Duke why would I download a track pack of Toby Keith songs?

Because I love to hate them.

Ahh, the perils of love-hate relationships.

Do you have any love-hate relationships with a band, performer, or writer? Discuss below. And if you actually like that "Angry American" song...please, just keep it to yourself.


Karen said...

Chattahoochee anyone? ;) Oh, I hate it so. But there sure are some funny stories about it, so I have to love it for that.

Robert K. said...

Try being a country music hater in Toby Keith's hometown. Yes, Toby Keith is from...Moore, Oklahoma. Any time I have to drive down Toby Keith Boulevard, I am reminded that I am in the minority of people who don't think the sun rises and sets on Toby Keith. Luckily, it's on the other side of Moore, so I only have to drive on it when we take the dogs to the vet.