My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Toby Keith – ‘A Few More Cowboys’

a few more cowboysOne of Toby Keith’s biggest hits was the Western themed ‘Shouldve been A Cowboy’. His latest single revisits that territory, but using the metaphor to tackle some of today’s social issues.

Written by Keith with Bobby Pinson and Dean Dillon, the lyric is in the main a celebration of Texas and an idealized cowboy ethos, with some more questionable elements. Some of it is conventional and likeable enough:

There’d be a bunch more daddies sons could be proud of
We’d have half the crime, we’d have twice the fun
With a few more cowboys, be a lot less outlaws
With a few more amens, be a lot less bad calls
With a few more yes ma’ams and a lot less yes man
This world would be a better place to live in
With a few more cowboys

He strikes a chord with the current anti-politics mood by making jabs at professional politicians:

If the White House was in Texas, man, we’d get a straighter answer

Although I’m not sure his alternative of “more fist fights” is much of an improvement, it’s hardly a surprise coming from Toby. Naturally there’s a bit of trade protection and an allusion to beating the enemy, again archetypal Keith:

Met ’em at high noon, hell, it’s about high time
We looked ’em in the eye, got our head out of the sand
Hit ’em with a big John Wayne, by God they’d understand

Production is beefed up, but recognisably country; there is a prominent electric guitar but it is not too intrusive, and Keith’s robust vocals are solid (when he actually sings). It’s quite an enjoyable tune with a pleasant mid paced melody. The lyric video is quite good fun, especially the image which accompanies the fist fights line.
But there is one element to the lyric which is fundamentally misjudged, and as it comes in the second line, and is then repeated in as portentous drawl at the end of the song, it can’t be overlooked as a passing thought – it’s a central point of the song:

If they’d let us smoke what we want, we’d have a lot less cancer

Um, really? While I understand there are some trials using parts of the cannabis/marijuana plant, that’s a far cry from actually smoking it being beneficial. This isn’t the place for that debate; suffice it to say that it significantly mars the song for me.

Grade: B- (it would be B+ without the line I objected to)

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5 responses to “Single Review: Toby Keith – ‘A Few More Cowboys’

  1. Ken August 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I agree that this song is more country sounding than a lot of the stuff on the charts these days. We’ll see if Toby still has enough of a fan base to make this a hit. However the lyrics are little more than another redneck anthem, The song opens with two false statements:

    “If the White House was in Texas, man, we’d get a straighter answer”

    Sorry but there are many Texas politicians that immediately come to mind that were not exactly truthful. I’ve never been a fan of songs that hold up Texas as being superior to other areas of the country. Folks that live in that state seem to buy into that line of thinking but most of us in the other 49 states and the rest of the world don’t believe it for a hot second. Texas is no better and no worse than the rest of the U.S. To be clear Texas shares most of the same problems found in other states so I’m not sure how moving the White House there could make things better.

    If they’d let us smoke what we want, we’d have a lot less cancer

    The American Cancer Society says that because marijuana smoke contains tar and many of the same cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke it might increase lung cancer risk too. Marijuana cigarettes are typically smoked all the way to the end and that is where tar content is the highest. I’m sure that Willie’s fans will cheer for that line but it may not be accurate. Not smoking anything could also result in a lot less cancer.

    The lyrics surrounding “Hit ’em with a big John Wayne – by God they’d understand” are completely ridiculous. Somebody should tell the writers that it’s not 1948 and the world is not what it was just after WWII. Today’s world is extremely complex and the U.S. can’t just send out a posse from Texas to fix all of the problems across the globe. Most issues are not even contained within the borders of a single nation. Simplistic out of date messages like this are not helpful to the conversation. I’m not clear what is being advocated by “If we had a little more grit, less politics and more fist fights” but it seems dangerous.

    There are a few good themes in there about family, faith, honesty and making more stuff here in the good ol’ U.S.A. but they are overshadowed by excessive redneck nonsense.

  2. Paul W Dennis August 23, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    I apparently liked this song more than either of you did, I don’t mind the Texas chauvinism , although if I’m not mistaken Toby is from Oklahoma. I don’t doubt that moving the White House anywhere away from the beltway cesspool would result in a more straight talk.

    While I do not espouse smoking anything (I have never smoked anything, ever) , marijuana is less carcinogenic than tobacco, if only because it lacks the chemical additives that are added to tobacco. Also , even the worst vipers I’ve known do not chain-smoke like some cigarette smokers.

    The world is a much more dangerous place today because the occupier of the Oval Office has been so feckless. In the last eight years we’ve seen Putin turn a position of real weakness into strength due to American inaction. We do not need a John Wayne or a Donald Trump or a Hillary Clinton , but a Dwight Eisenhower or a Margaret Thatcher would be a real asset,

    Anyway, since real country music is in such short supply, I look forward Toby’s next album

    • Ken August 24, 2016 at 8:33 am

      The beltway is not the problem. Unless you reduce the severe partisanship that now permeates the political process no matter where the Capitol is located nothing will change. Gerrymandering of districts has made too many political races non-competitive. Lack of term limits in the Senate & House allow career politicians to hold office for decades. Lobbyists are actually running the show. The horrible Citizens United decision allows unlimited money to further corrupt the system. It’s not a geographical problem it’s a systemic problem.To expect straight talk from it is impossible.

      Folks that smoke pot can’t chain smoke it like cigarettes because they would be catatonic. But I have known a few folks that came pretty close.

      The state of the world cannot be completely blamed on the current President who I don’t agree is “feckless” although the right wing and Fox News loves to brand him with that term. Like every other recent administration mistakes were made but many were a result of the poor choices made by the previous administration especially in the Middle East. The world is a complex and difficult place. The majority of Americans are tired of 15 years of constant wars that have not solved anything. I don’t believe that even a Dwight Eisenhower or a Margaret Thatcher could fix most of the complex issues that the U.S. faces today. Nor could a few more cowboys. There are few good choices to be had.

      • Paul W Dennis August 24, 2016 at 11:14 pm

        Some clarifications:
        1 – both parties have been guilty of gerrymandering. I believe Eldridge Gerry, for whom the concept was named, was a Democrat
        2- Citizens United was correctly decided, as even some liberal commentators have conceded – it was the result the United States Constitution required. Admittedly there have been unfortunate side effects, but I rather live with those side effects than find labor unions to be allowed unlimited spending and find that others would be largely silenced or forced to engage in silly charades
        3- term limits for the US House and Senate would require an amendment to the US Constitution . What State and local governments want to do about term limits is up to them. I prefer to trust the voters to rid themselves of scoundrels
        4- the US Senate, being a state-wide elections, are not affected by gerrymandering

        By the way, I do not watch Fox News, MSNBC or CNN (which I think stands for Clinton News Network). I watch the BBC world news on PBS (or listen to the BBC World Service on NPR) and read the BBC, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor and Associated Press websites since I have found these sources far more objective than most other sources. I do not need Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow’s putrid opinions to let me know both Trump and Clinton will make poor presidents.

        Now back to music …

  3. luckyoldsun August 24, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    What struck me about the song is that it’s actually a good deal LESS hostile and extremist than has been the norm of late. Thematically it’s similar to a song Charlie Daniels did some years ago called “What This World Needs is a Few More Rednecks,”–but in that song, Charlie seemed to threaten “intellectuals”–(and also seemed to call for the assassination of Mikhail Gorbachev).

    And Toby’s call for settling disputes with one’s fists is quite moderate. The “conservative” mantra that’s been prevalent in recent years is that every “good guy” should walk around armed–and if you happen to get hassled by someone, you should “stand your ground” and shoot the “bad guy”! I thank Toby and the co-writers for not turning the song into yet another attack on people who don’t own arsenals of weapons.

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