Toby Keith: ’90s Country Resurgence Inspired Him to Revisit His Own Catalog
It's no surprise to Toby Keith that the '90s are especially hot right now, inspiring new tracks including Lauren Alaina's "Ladies in the '90s" and Walker Hayes' "90's Country" and resulting in a resurgence of the decade's country hits. After all, he's lived through similar musical flashback trends.
"There's always a little trendy thing that happens ... In the '90s, there was a disco, retro thing going on. In the next decade, there was an '80s thing going on. Now, in this decade, there's a '90s thing going on," Keith recalled at a recent press event. "I remember, back when I was a kid in the '70s, there was a '50s thing going on!
"There's always this 20-year retro kickback thing that happens, and when this whole '90s thing started happening and I started seeing the kids playing [my songs] "Who's That Man" and "He Ain't Worth Missing" and "Wish I Didn't Know Now," I thought, 'Young'uns play 'em, and they get a great response!'"
In fact, Keith says, the reaction that younger artists got while covering his '90s hits made him realize that audiences still love hearing those songs, many of which he hasn't had a chance to play in a while. Thanks to Keith's vast catalog and the fact that he has only a couple of hours onstage each night, even some of the singer's favorite songs often fall by the wayside.
"You're out there every year, doing a-hundred-and-something amphitheaters, and you're just rolling, and you look up one day and you're like, 'I've got lots of No. 1s I don't play. And I wrote 'em, and I love 'em. I wanna play 'em again, even if it means leaving something else out,'" Keith explains. "Those songs were important, and they were big songs. So I just decided I wanted to start playing 'em again."
Keith has a massive array of hits to choose from, but the singer says none of them might have ever seen the light of day if it weren't for one special song: "Should've Been a Cowboy."
"That song, and a follow-up single, gave me enough breathing room to find my way, whereas a lot of people didn't get that chance," Keith reflects of his No. 1 debut single from 1993. "So that is the foundation for every single thing, all the way up to [my most recent track] "Don't Let the Old Man In.""
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