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23 September 2010
<     (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) When you work the road as hard as singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith does, you have to find ways to blow off steam. Late nights, long hours on the highway, an extra beer or two and noodling around on the guitar with friends can inspire some rather unusual compositions. Toby calls them "bus songs" and they"ve become a staple of his albums, not to mention fan favorites. >
            For the Oct. 5 release Bullets In The Gun, the traditional track 10 slot is occupied by "Get Outta My Car," which urges a fence-sitting date to, well, get on with it or .... The song builds on the fine and funny traditions of songs like "Weed With Willie" and "Brand New Bow." "If you look back through my albums, you'll see what I want out of the No. 10 cut," Keith says. "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."
            Of course, Bullets pulls the trigger on a lot more fun in its Deluxe Edition, which includes the first Incognito Bandito live recordings Keith has ever released. Four songs – Johnny Paycheck's "11 Months And 29 Days," Waylon Jennings' "I've Been A Long Time Leaving (But I'll Be A Long Time Gone)," Roger Miller's "Chug-A-Lug" and Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown" – were recorded at Keith's June "Incognito Bandito" show in Manhattan.
            "'What if I paid you guys good and we went out and played some high-profile bars?'" Keith says, recalling his query to the studio musicians who were playing the Bullets sessions. "Now, this is a band that rehearsed in Nashville then met me at the Fillmore in New York. They set up, we ran through them quick as we could in a little sound check, then we got up in front of the world and said, 'Here we are.'"
            That Toby Keith would fearlessly jump onstage in the media capital of the world for a rather impromptu show – and that he would have the guts to put some of those recordings on an album – speaks to his raw musicality. That some late night joking around results in some of his most beloved songs further cements his status as an unparalleled song man with an innate ability to communicate with his audience.
            But after 17 years of unrelenting hits, maybe that shouldn't come as a surprise. The next chapter bows Oct. 5.


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