Celebrating Toby Keith’s Birthday with 4 No. 1 Songs Written by the Big Dog Daddy Himself

Toby Keith tragically passed away earlier this year after a battle with stomach cancer. However, the Oklahoma native left behind a legacy that will outlive even the youngest of his listeners. Through his songwriting, recordings, and charitable actions, Keith inspired countless artists and fans alike.

Videos by American Songwriter

Over the course of his career, Keith sent 20 singles to the top of the Billboard country chart. To make that feat even more impressive, he wrote or co-wrote most of those No. 1s. Today, on what would have been TK’s 63rd birthday, we’re looking back at a few of those songs.

“Should’ve Been a Cowboy”—Toby Keith’s Debut Chart-Topper

When it comes to Toby Keith songs, few are more iconic than “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” He wrote the song solo and released it as the lead single from his self-titled debut album in 1993. It was his debut single as well as his first No. 1.

[RELATED: The Embarrassing Dancefloor Rejection Behind Toby Keith’s Debut Single and First No. 1 “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”]

With many nods to Western movies as well as historical figures, Keith wrote this song while on a hunting trip. A friend of his asked a young cowgirl to dance while at a bar and she turned him down, claiming that she didn’t dance. Then, moments later, a young cowboy walked into the bar, approached the same young lady, and took her out on the dancefloor. TK and his pals ribbed the guy who got shot down saying he “should have been a cowboy.” The song sprang from there.

“As Good As I Once Was”—TK’s Ode to Aging

Keith co-penned “As Good As I Once Was” with his frequent collaborator Scotty Emerick. He released the track as the second single from his 2005 album Honkytonk University and it climbed to the top of the chart.

Keith said this was “Probably my favorite song on the album,” on his website upon its release. “If I hadn’t come out of the box with ‘Honkytonk U,’ I’d have come with this one. It didn’t matter what order, they were going to be singles one and two. I can always tell when I’ve got a special one as soon as I get done,” he added.

“How Do You Like Me Now”—Toby Keith’s Sonic Middle Finger to His Early Detractors  

Toby Keith co-penned this song with Chuck Cannon and released it as the title track and second single from his 2005 album. This chart-topper was TK’s way of giving the ol’ one-finger salute to everyone who told him he wouldn’t make it.

“A lot of people become successful after being told they won’t ever be. So people can relate to this,” he said of the song. While the song mentions the girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day in high school, he said the song could be about anyone. “It can be about an old flame or a boss or a teacher—whatever it means to each individual.”

“Beer for My Horses”—Toby and Willie Team Up for a Win

Written by Keith and Emerick, “Beer for My Horses” was the final single from Unleashed. It brought both Toby Keith and Willie Nelson a six-week No. 1 on the country chart. Additionally, it went to No. 22 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, giving Keith his highest-charting crossover.

“As soon as we got done writing it, I thought man, it’d be cool if we could get Willie Nelson to sing the Texas verse on that. Obviously, he went for it and I think it’s the biggest multi-week No. 1 either of us ever had,” he said of the song on his website.

Featured Image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Leave a Reply

Slash Says Reconciling with Axl Rose and Rejoining Guns N’ Roses “Was a Huge … Weight Lifted Off of Our Shoulders”

Slash Says Reconciling with Axl Rose and Rejoining Guns N’ Roses Was a Huge “Weight Lifted Off of Our Shoulders”

Bonnie Tyler performing

Bonnie Tyler’s Signature Voice and the Painful Technique She Used To Get It