Toby Keith – “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Released: 9.20 02

Peak: #22

Toby Keith may have been the clear financial winner in his dumbass Dixie Chicks dust-up–Natalie and the gals saw their country hit-making career fizzle as his star ascended–but his comic touch was almost collateral damage. Even as the belligerence of “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” thrust Keith into the spotlight as the yokel patriot of Karl Rove’s dreams, the resulting controversy overshadowed his ability to put across a light-hearted country romp with a winning wink.

In the eight years prior to 9/11, Keith dropped his share of leaden down home sentiment, beginning with the image-making “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” Still, it was disheartening to hear this character actor–aces as the overwhelmed egotist of the almost talking-blues “I Wanna Talk About Me” or the candid Mr. Right Now of “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight”–toss his weight behind the clay-footed “American Soldier,” which “supports our troops” as effectively as those fucking magnetic ribbons.

But “Who’s Your Daddy?” is Toby at his tasteless redneck apex. If the title grosses you out, figure it’s meant to–the dirty old narrator is upfront about trading “money” for some sweet thang’s “honey,” and the way Keith holds back after “Who’s your” to add extra oomph to “man” suggests that his wallet ain’t the only bulge in those jeans.  And it rocks. I’d love to hear more alt-country plodders throw this much Skynyrd guitar all over a song–either people who claim their problem with mainstream country is primarily musical are bluffing or their tastes are for shit.

Yeah, 2002 was an overheated time. If Keith tempted us to lump him in with backwoods idjits like Montgomery Gentry, the Chicks committed their own contemporaneous foolishness, complaining that country stations don’t play Haggard, Cash, or Hank Sr. (And Hot 97 doesn’t play enough Sam Cooke either. Your point?) But recollected in tranquility, even Keith’s jingoism  is funnier than we peaceniks give credit. Call Keith on his shit, for sure. But if you can’t rock along with him, then the terrorists — ah, you know the rest.

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  • Pete Scholtes  On April 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

    You’re right, he’s undeniable, ‘specially on the radio. “I Wanna Talk About Me” is awesome.

  • usefulnoise  On April 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Whoa–mega-onslaught of Scholtes comments!

  • Caelii  On January 8, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I have been so beedeiwrld in the past but now it all makes sense!

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