3 Songs You Didn’t Know Toby Keith Wrote for Other Artists

For the past 30 years, Toby Keith has navigated many blue-collar anthems, drinking ditties, and some more heartfelt ballads, from his 1993 eponymous debut and his first No. 1 “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” through his subsequent hit albums that followed in the ’90s—Boomtown (1994), Blue Moon (1996), and Dream Walkin’ (1997). The Oklahoma native has delivered a diverse collection of stories in his songbook.

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By 1999, Keith had his biggest breakthrough hit “How Do You Like Me Now?!” the title track of his fifth album. Co-written with Chuck Cannon, the song remained at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for five weeks and also hit the Top 40 (at No. 31) of the Hot 100, becoming his biggest crossover hit at the time, and one of his signature songs.

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In 2001, the album and song also earned Keith the ACM award for Top Male Vocalist and Album of the Year.

Throughout his career, Keith has released 19 albums, including Peso in My Pocket in 2021, and 20 No. 1 hits, including ‘Who’s That Man,” “Me Too,” his 2003 duet with Willie Nelson, “Beer for My Horses,” and “As Good as I Once Was,” among others.

Here’s a look at three songs Keith also wrote for other artists since the late 1990s.

1. “Slave to the Habit,” Shane Minor (1999)
Written by Toby Keith, Chuck Cannon, Kostas

The lead single off country singer Shane Minor’s self-titled debut, “Slave to the Habit” peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and No. 8 on the Canadian country chart. The album would be the last one the former police officer would release after he switched gears by the 2000s to write for other artists. Over the past 20 years, Minor has written songs for Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney, Trace Adkins, Cole Swindell, and Jamey Johnson, among many others.

It ain’t wrong to say
I can’t start the day
Without a shot of
What makes it right
‘Cause baby if I miss
Just one little kiss
I’ll be jonesin’ ’til tonight

I’m a slave to the habit
Slave to the habit
Chained to the way you do that thing you do
I’m a stone-cold addict
You know I gots to have it
I’m a slave to the habit of loving you

2. “Some of Us Fly,” Merle Haggard (2005)
Written by Merle Haggard and Toby Keith

On Merle Haggard‘s 58th album, Chicago Wind, the legendary outlaw wrote a majority of the tracks, and included a cover of Willie Nelson‘s song, “It Will Always Be.” Also on the album were a few co-writes, including the closing moving ballad “Some of Us Fly.”

We all come along, in our own given time
No way to compare, such unique design
But there’s one common trait,
To the scheme of it all
Some of us fly, all of us fall

When life deals you a hand you don’t throw it away
The cards that you draw are the cards that you play
Some don’t give a damn,
Some give it there all
Some of us fly, but all of us fall

3. “Sauce,” Justin Timberlake (2018)
Written by Toby Keith, Justin Timberlake, Nate Hills, and Tim Mosley (Timbaland)

Timbaland, Chris Stapleton, Pharrell Williams, and Alicia Keys, are some of the credited writers on Justin Timberlake‘s 2018 album, Man of the Woods. Also co-produced by Timberlake, Timbaland, and The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), Keith is also credited with co-writing the track “Sauce.”

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“It’s definitely the most introspective record I’ve made,” said Timberlake of Man of the Woods. “I think every album that I’ve done before that was about aspiration, and how I can pay homage to my influences. When you have kids, all of a sudden you’re faced with your own childhood, good and bad, and ‘Am I going to completely mess this kid up?’ I feel like the success of parenthood is feeling of ‘I failed all day today, but I get to wake up tomorrow and do it again,’ and hopefully, they turn out to be good human beings.”

It’s all these loose screws when you get close to me
It’s like too much to describe, yeah, it’s enough for two lives
And I could never stand by nothing but at least I’m gon’ try
Ooh, ooh, somethin’ comes over me
It’s all these loose screws when you get close to me
It’s like too much to describe, yeah, it’s enough for two lives
And I could never stand by nothing but at least I’m gon’ try

Photo by Richard McLaren / Shock Ink

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