Toby Keith has built a reputation for pushing boundaries in country music, both in his lyrics and in his often hilarious, theatrical music videos. But the 49-year-old says his sometimes edgy clips, which have garnered him a handful CMT awards and nominations (including two nods in 2010 for his animated video for the No. 1 hit, 'American Ride'), are really just an afterthought.
"We write the song first. You never know when you write a song if you're going to record it," the country superstar explains (quote via Lancaster, Penn. radio station WIOV). Toby adds that he writes his best tunes if he doesn't let his mind get lost in a potential video, and hopes his fans take the accompanying videos for what they are -- fun. In reviewing more than 30 videos he has done in his 17-year career, he says he wants to be seen "drinkin' and raisin' hell and having fun and laughing at me and everybody around me."
The video for his recent top 20 hit, 'Trailerhood,' featured several unexpected 'extras' in some of the scenes -- residents who actually lived in the location where Toby and his crew were filming. "The video we shot in a trailer park outside of Nashville," Toby tells The Boot. "We had eight or ten actors and actresses to play the part, and all of the people who lived in the trailer park came out to watch the video shoot, and I invited them over to sing with me. We put them around my lawn chair and my cooler, and they just came dressed as they were. What you see is exactly how they dressed out of their closet, and it's awesome. It's so organic and real ... and fun at the same time."
Toby's clip for his latest single, the title track for his No. 1 album 'Bullets in the Gun,' is more like a short western film than a video. (Watch the video below.) The song, he says, is his present-day version of a classic romance. "I wanted to do an attitude song, where a drifter, instead of riding a horse, is riding a motorcycle, and make it a Western theme but bring it into modern-day time," Toby explains to The Boot. "In the name of love, this drifter meets his soul mate, and she's wilder and crazier and maybe even meaner than he is ... He's probably been drifting all over the world on his motorcycle for years and encounters all kinds of different relationships, but this one was different. He met his soul mate."