Football player turned singer has strong feelings toward U.S. troops

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

Toby Keith was a pretty good football player. Like many young men, he dreamed of playing in the NFL.

But things don't always go as we hope and Keith's dream never materialized. At least not his first choice.

His second choice of a singing career has worked out pretty well. He's probably the hottest male artist on the country music charts and Monday night he walked away with three Flameworthy Video awards including Video of the Year for "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (An Angry American)."

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The song was written right after 9-11 and was strictly for Keith's ears. He never meant to share the song.

But while visiting the troops in Afghanistan, Keith played the song to a couple of officers who persuaded him to sing it to the military men on his two-week tour.

They loved it.

Upon the urging of his friends at Dreamworks, Inc., Keith released the song as a single. The American public listened, too.

They loved it.

Well, most of them.

Peter Jennings, the transplanted Canadian who anchors the ABC news desk, had a Fourth of July television special and asked Keith to kickoff the show. But when Jennings heard one line in the lyrics, "We'll put a boot in your ass, It's the American way," Jennings nixed the song.

Keith was asked to sing something tame. Keith said "no" and was dropped from the show.

Fittingly, Keith's song hit No. 1 on the charts the week of, yep, you guessed it, the Fourth of July.

Keith sang the song to close the Flameworthy show. He preceded it with another song he had written special for the occasion that also had a patriotic theme. He warned those who badmouthed the USA that they "were walking on the fightin' side of me."

And make no mistake. Keith is a fighter. Working his way up the music ladder, he played many small clubs and was met with his share of hecklers. The difference was, Keith went after his verbal abusers.

One bouncer said that he "never saw Keith lose a fight." And he loved the fact Keith threw in a quote during each fight, like "I'll tell you when you've had enough" after his heckler begged for mercy.

That's why Natalie Mains, lead singer of the mega-star Dixie Chicks country group, should take notes. If she wants to get in a verbal fight with Keith, she'll lose.

At a recent concert in England, the native Texan said her group was embarrassed to be from the same state as the president.

She was met with a lot of boos.

Mains has called Keith "an ignorant hick." The "ignorant hick" is watching his success skyrocket while many country music fans are boycotting the Chicks and their CDs.

All the liberal war-bashers need only to ask the oppressed Iraqi people what they think. Or better yet, listen to them as they cheered the American soldiers who freed them of the Hussein reign of terror.

The thing about Mains' comments is how hypocritical they are. The Dixie Chicks had a song a couple of years ago in which they sang about a man named Earl who abused his wife which led the wife and her best friend to kill the husband.

The video was made with a comical premise to help deflect the criticism for a song that approved of solving the problem with murder.

While Mains has no problem with her song, she doesn't think it's right for anyone to try and help a nation of people who are not just being smacked around, but starved, tortured, shot and gassed.

And turning to the authorities won't help because they were the ones torturing and killing the Iraqi people.

Enter the United States and close friend Great Britain.

You see, Natalie, they're the good guys. Saddam Hussein and his Republican Guard were Iraq's Earl.

Toby Keith is very proud, appreciative and passionate of the American troops.

If Natalie Mains is smart, she'll keep quiet and stop rattling his cage.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.