Why Toby Keith Doesn’t Write Many Songs Anymore
In a recent interview with The Oklahoman, Toby opened up about the current state of country music, why he doesn’t write anymore, and why today’s artists don’t have longevity.
Toby Keith has never been one to conform to what anyone else wants him to be or hide how he feels about it. The 62-year-old country legend released his debut album 30 years ago and has made a career based on bold and smart business moves paired with unmatched talent as a singer and songwriter.
In a candid new interview, Toby shared that he doesn’t write as much as he used to — a sad confession from one of the only songwriters to have penned at least one chart-topping single over each of the past 20 years. His reason? “Because I have nowhere to go with it,” he told The Oklahoman.
Toby, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015, further explained that radio doesn’t want what he writes anymore.
“You can get it … streamed, and you’ve got your fans who’ll play it. But as far as getting air play, what we do and what I made my hall of fame living doing, they don’t want that,” he said of country radio. “So, you’re kind of wasting your time.”
The “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer also stated that his days of being “automatically played” are over, but he has no intention of trying to fit in.
“All those years of owning it, and being that guy where you just put it out and they’ll automatically play it, well, none of us are that guy anymore,” he said before adding that he has no plans of changing to fit the in with the changing country music scene. “I’ve just never been that guy — and I’m not going to change and write that kind of stuff. … But with all the songs we got, I could play four hours of straight hits.”
Toby Keith recently returned to performing, a year-and-a-half after revealing a cancer diagnosis.
In June 2022, Toby Keith revealed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer the previous fall. Keith canceled all of his concerts after sharing his health news on social media with a post that read, “Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait. -T”
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Toby made a few unexpected appearances in the months that followed, including a brief performance at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Lexington, Kentucky, and a celebration performance of “How Do You Like Me Now?” with the Oklahoma University’s softball team after they won a National Championship.
But, in late June, Toby surprised fans with a 2 1/2-hour concert at his Oklahoma venue, Hollywood Corners. Toby had teased the possible return to the stage the week prior, saying that he and his band would likely start rehearsing to see if his health would allow him to perform a full show.
For two nights, fans packed Hollywood Corners as the “Beer For My Horses” singer sang all of his own hits plus some cover tunes. The impromptu concerts were proof that Toby Keith, and other artists who have found decades of success in country music, don’t need to conform to current country music standards to find success.
Watch Toby Keith sing at one of his recent Hollywood Corners shows in the video below.