Toby Keith’s brand new album, Bullets In The Gun, hit store shelves this past Tuesday. I thought it would be fun to offer fans an inside look at each and every song. So, we asked the man himself to take you on a guided tour of his new album. Read the story behind all ten tracks then listen to each song for yourself. When you head out to pick up your copy of the album, I highly recommend the Deluxe version. For just a tiny bit more cash, you get the 10 songs below PLUS 4 really cool live songs. Enjoy your tour…
1. Bullets In The Gun - written by Toby Keith and Rivers Rutherford
When we started writing this idea, which I’d had for a while, we thought we would do five or six verses and just tag the last line of each verse with “bullets in the gun.” But then we came up with that fantastic chorus, which is just so strong. Growing up in Oklahoma, playing shows in New Mexico and Texas and being around the real cowboy thing, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Wild West. We’ve modernized it here – the guy’s not riding a horse, he’s riding a motorcycle. He’s lost and lonely and riding around trying to find his place in the world. And when he finds it, she’s a renegade just like him. He’s got that cold place in his soul, that missing piece. And she’s holding it. They’re soul mates. He really doesn’t commit the robbery, but he loves her so much he lets her do it. She’s tired of being treated bad, so that’s her jailbreak. She gets out. The cards are on the table and the bullets in the gun is Wild Bill Hickok. There’s no more gambling, no more bluffing; it’s do or die and we’re settling it. I never thought it could be a single, but with the response we’ve gotten from radio, it looks like it’s going to be.
2. Somewhere Else - written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
My favorite track on the album. As a songwriter, it’s really clever, wordy and has a lot of craftsmanship … and I really love those kinds of songs. I can just picture that guy walking downtown in his broke-down shoes. I’ve seen people walk ’til they wore that place off the back of their heels. He takes a back seat at a front door table … then we flip it in the second verse and the neon light he’d been trying to get to becomes the front porch light. He’s lonely and cold, eating his cold TV dinner. He’s a Cubs fan, and they lose all the time, too. So he’s the the biggest loser in the world. As light as the song is, it’s a serious issue. A very different song for me.
3. Trailerhood – written by Toby Keith
I was riding my motorcycle and had a couple of dudes with me. We were in an old neighborhood out in the country where I used to live. And there’s a trailer park out there. Somebody said, “Hey, let’s go eat.” We’re starting to turn around and I realize they’ve put railroad tracks in and blocked the street I wanted to take. So I was going to say, “Let’s go in the trailer park” or, “Let’s go in this neighborhood and turn around.” But instead I said, “Let’s go in this trailerhood.” And one of the guys said, “The old trailerhood, huh?”
I lived in one for a couple of years when I was 19 after I moved off my parents’ farm. It was a real nice, gated trailer park with a pool. I had a lot of fun. There were always guys drinking beer, always a poker game and kids playing ball in the streets. Everybody in my area is a Dallas Cowboys fan, so they’re always getting together to watch the games. Then you just go white trash on it with the tattoos, farmer tans, NASCAR and rodeo. Everyone knows trailer parks take a beating from tornadoes, so when you talk to people in L.A. they want to know how someone could live in one. What they don’t understand is that tornadoes are exciting. Unless it’s bulls-eyed right for you, everybody is outside watching them go by. So I brought all these thoughts together and wrote it by myself over Christmas break. I told the guys when we cut it that I wanted to be real original and organic with it; the bass drum going and the bass right there in a simple, marching band kind of feel.
4. In A Couple Of Days – written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
Someone will call you and say, “Hey, can you help me move?” And you’ll tell them you’ve got some stuff on your plate, but to hit you back in a couple of days and you’ll let them know. So the idea was to tie that into a breakup. The girl leaves you and calls back the next day to check in and see how you’re doing. Are you alright? Hell, he has no idea. He’s still in a stupor. You just hit me with this yesterday, so call me back when the swelling goes down. I’ve had my ass whipped, I should know something in a couple of days. So attaching that idea to something didn’t quite fit is the clever little twist we put on this song. That phrase ordinarily isn’t something you would ever apply to the end of a relationship.
5. Think About You All Of The Time – written by Toby Keith
This is another one I wrote over Christmas break. I absolutely loved the melody, but the idea is probably something I’ve said or heard and it stuck with me. I can’t remember where or why, but I just thought it was funny to say, “Yeah, you’re gone and I don’t miss you too much, but I think about you all the time.” Which is basically the same thing. He’s willing to admit he heard she’s in town with a handsome man, but says he didn’t catch it all. He caught it second-hand. Well, of course it was second-hand if you heard it from somebody. There’s a lot of that kind of doubling back in the song. I wrote one years ago that went, “We’d still be together, but she left me.” Well, of course! Those kinds of things crack me up.
6. Kissin’ In The Rain - written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
I usually write songs from the core out, but this one started at the front. Bobby and I put together such a great first verse. Those lines are exactly what we did at the lake. You can’t write that memory down better than that. It’s 114 degrees in July, that lake is muddy and right out on the edge of town. It’s where everybody goes. We’d call it “Dirty Bird” instead of Thunderbird. You’d build a fire at night and the high school kids would be out there drinking beer. We had that first verse done and were like, well, where are we going to go with it? A girl would have a more difficult time getting out there because her dad would be more strict than on a son, and we built the story from there. Bad weather is coming – tornado sirens are a weekly event out there. So the storm is coming and they’re out there kissing in the rain while her parents are wondering where she is. Then we took it 25 years forward.
7. Drive It On Home - written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
Never have written a trucker song before, but for years I’ve been telling Bobby we were going to write one. We started one time and ended up with the song “Pump Jack” about the oilfields, knowing there wouldn’t be more than a handful of people who would even know what that is. We wrote it from our past, both of us being from that area, and we never got around to writing the trucker song. Now we’ve come around to it again. When we tore into it, I told him, “Man, truck driving songs make me think about ‘Six Days On The Road,’ Dave Dudley and those kinds of things.’ We’d just made a modern version of a Wild West song with “Bullets In The Gun” and I wanted to do that in a trucker song. We really got it driving and grinding. It’s busy, clever and the lines hit hard and fast. Another one of those songs you hope will get heard on the radio even if it’s not the most obvious single.
8. Ain’t Breakin’ Nothin’ - written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
Bobby was in the studio and we happened to be cutting “Somewhere Else.” This song was a ballad and we were needing two more songs for the album, but I told Bobby I didn’t want to put a ballad on. I liked the song, I just didn’t love the song. He goes off down the hallway like a dog with his tail between his legs, but in a little bit he came back and said, “I just turned this into a great song.” He took that ballad, sped it up to mid-tempo, changed one chord and fixed the song. Something hadn’t been right and it didn’t fit the album, but once we started playing it as a mid-tempo, we realized we didn’t have anything else like it. I’ve had a lot of songs through the years in this general mold, but I didn’t have one yet for this album. The lyrics were well crafted and the song had been easy to write originally, so once we got the tempo fixed it put so much emotion into three minutes. There are people right now in this world who feel exactly like this.
9. Is That All You Got - written by Toby Keith, Scotty Emerick, Dean Dillon
We wrote that about three years ago and I’d forgotten about it. But right after me and Scotty came off the USO tour I got an email from him saying, “Hey, big T. Found this yesterday.” He didn’t know it, but we were in the middle of doing the album. He was just sending it so I’d have it in my files, but it sounded like a group of songs me, Scotty and Dean had written that I’d had a No. 1 out of a few years ago. ["A Little Too Late."] I hadn’t visited that part of my life in a while, but when I write with those guys I know what it’s going to sound like. So I decided to put this one on the album. You can’t go wrong with me, Scotty and Dean.
10. Get Out Of My Car – written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
If you look back through my albums, you’ll see what I want out of the No. 10 cut. A Roger Miller ditty; something that’s going to make you go, “That sonuvabitch, he has a good time!” Last album it was “Ballad Of Balad,” which is the biggest song I ever wrote overseas. That thing goes over like hotcakes over there. But that’s the idea. If people are still listening, they get a little extra shot of fun. I’ve had people review albums you could tell didn’t even listen all the way through. They just looked at the titles and hated on me in print. You can tell because they don’t get that twist at the end. In this song, it’s in the idea that after all that, there was no way that guy was going to get it. In the end, he gets out of his clothes and she gets out of his car. Left him sitting there naked. And that’s me singing those tag harmony lines. Came up with that studio – just told them to leave the mic open because I had an idea.
So what do you think? Leave me a comment below and let me know which song is your favorite and why…