Even on pandemic related lockdown - maybe especially so - probably wise for people to be sure they don't let the old man in. Singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith gives the idea double meaning with the latest installment of his Furniture Store Guitar Sessions - his instantly iconic "Don't Let The Old Man In." This time, the video clip is framed in powerful black-and-white images assembled by celebrated director Michael Salomon.
A solo-write by Keith following a casual golf course chat with legendary actor/director Clint Eastwood, the song was almost immediately hailed as one of the finest of his career. Quite a feat for the 2015 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee. The booklet for Willie Nelson's upcoming album First Rose Of Spring, which includes the song, tells the story, as written by Mikal Gilmore:
Keith was 58 when he wrote "Don't Let the Old Man In," for Clint Eastwood's 2018 film The Mule. Both the song and the film are about the same thing: an aged man who won't let his age impede him. When Toby premiered the song, he related the tale of playing at Eastwood's Carmel golf tournament in 2018 when he learned that the actor's 88th birthday was coming up in two days. Toby asked the actor how he planned to celebrate the occasion and Eastwood said: "Funny you should ask. I am leaving tomorrow to shoot a movie for three months called The Mule." Keith was surprised. At his age and stature, Eastwood could easily have retired. He didn't have to make or appear in films anymore. Toby wondered where that sort of energy comes from. Eastwood replied: "I just get up every morning and go out. And I don't let the old man in." Keith thought, "I'm writing that." What Toby came up with was a statement of understanding: He put himself in the shoes of somebody 30 years older than himself and envisioned the person's mettle: "I knew all of my life, that someday it would end/Get up and go outside, don't let the old man in." After Eastwood heard it, he featured the song over the film's closing credits. And when Buddy Cannon heard it, he wanted to bring Willie's voice to it. "I think it's the best song Toby Keith's ever written," says the producer. Though Keith wrote "Don't Let the Old Man In" for Eastwood, it could have been tailor-made for Nelson as his credo.
Fittingly, the new video for the song closes with one color picture of Keith and Eastwood, glasses in hand, captioned, "Here's to not letting the old man in."