Toby Keith Hand-Selects Happy Birthday America Playlist

Singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith was celebrating Independence Day a few years back when the idea for his song "Happy Birthday America" came to him. So it's only fitting that an artist known for his patriotism and support of military service members – and perhaps misunderstood for his politics – would kick off the self-titled, hand-selected holiday playlist with the track.

Available now here, Toby Keith's Happy Birthday America Playlist opens with the song from his latest album, Peso In My Pocket. Among several of his own appropriately themed songs are many more by artists ranging from Merle Haggard and James Brown to Jason Aldean and Keith Urban. Concurrently, Keith's combustible post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)" gets a new lyric video treatment with patriotic moments from Keith’s recent live shows as well as his overseas visits with troops during his 11 USO tours. The video was released by Universal Music Enterprise (Ume) today Friday, July 1.

As for "Happy Birthday America," Keith explains, "I'm standing on the back of one of a thousand boats tied together on the Fourth of July, 2020. A local radio station is blaring from every one of them because they synchronize the music with the fireworks. The guy who owns the big cruiser I'm on asks which of my songs I think they'll play and when. And I said, ‘If they play “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue,” they'll probably play a few things – Lee Greenwood and such – and wait to play mine once they're really rolling. First time they completely fill the sky.’ Sure enough, I'm the third song. Everybody on the lake is singing, boats are honking and it's been a really screwed up year. My buddy looks at me and says, ‘Happy Fourth of July, big dog.’ I said, ‘Happy birthday, America. Whatever's left of you.’ And then I was like, ‘I need to write that.’"

Like many of his songs – not to mention his politics – "Happy Birthday America" cuts both ways. In a time of deep societal division, the song is – in its own way – an anthem as well. The timing coincides with the 20th anniversary of "Courtesy" reaching No. 1 on Billboard (7/20/02). Also, next month marks the 20th anniversary of his album Unleashed debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Country and Billboard 200 music charts.

Recently, Keith raised another $1.38 million at his annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic to benefit OK Kids Korral, the cost-free home for families of children being treated at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. And his latest single, "Oklahoma Breakdown," will re-ship to country radio later this month.