Hello CDB fans, this week has been rough. From dealing with a household full of Covid-positives while I’m trying to dodge the bug so I can take care of my family, to the tragic death of Toby Keith.
We know he had been dealing with stomach cancer for a year and a half, but we still hoped he would somehow make a recovery. I believe I met him at the 2005 BMI Awards in Nashville.
While he and Dad weren’t always in touch, I know that Dad respected Toby, and I would imagine the same was true for Toby regarding Dad.
As sad as Toby’s passing has been, there’s something even more tragic afoot. A decades-old feud that had been seemingly put to rest has resurfaced, not by the originator of the feud, but by the fans.
In May of 2002, Toby released “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue (The Angry American)” as a response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Keith’s father was a veteran and it was a very personal song for him and for many others. Natalie Maines, lead singer for the group formerly known as The Dixie Chicks criticized the song in August of 2002 in an interview in the Los Angeles Daily News saying, “I hate it, it makes country music sound ignorant…”
A few months later in a CMT interview, Keith criticized her take and said she wasn’t a songwriter, with occasional jabs going back and forth between the two for several months.
Then in March of 2003, the feud reached stratospheric heights when Maines famously said on a London stage that they were ashamed that President Bush is from Texas.
The backlash was unprecedented, radio stations dropped their music, fans boycotted and they basically became invisible for several years, still performing, but not at the level they had been, but they still performed at the ACM Awards in May of 2023, and Natalie was sporting a shirt that said F.U.T.K., she playfully said that the acronym stood for "Friends United in Truth and Kindness," but it was obvious what the intent was, the last three letters represented “You Toby Keith” and the first one represented a word that starts with F, ends with UCK and isn’t Firetruck.
A few months later, Toby basically said he was done with the feud, and a few years later, the Dixie Chicks won a Grammy for an album that contained a song that appeared to be an attempt to reignite the feud, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
I promise you there is a point to this, and I will get there shortly.
I don’t believe that Dad ever met Ms. Maines, but he did have something to say about her comments, if only in private. If I remember correctly, he actually defended her right to her opinion, however he felt that by her making her statements on foreign soil, it was a bit cowardly. He felt if you feel that way, say it on your home turf.
He did NOT – as many people have claimed – tell them to “Shut up and sing.” That was the title of a book by Laura Ingraham, and not a quote from Dad, but that does showcase some of the differences between Dad and Ms. Maines, Dad was outspoken on the stage about his love of country, his love of Jesus, and he wasn’t afraid to say things like “The lowest form of animal life is a child molester, and the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.”
Neither of those statements should be very controversial, but they are not political per se. Dad would tell you how he feels with no minced words on Twitter and on his website soapboxes, but he would never subject his audiences to a tirade against presidents he didn’t vote for, or by praising a president that he did vote for.
So, here’s where I was going with all of that, shortly after it was announced that Toby Keith had passed away, FUTK started trending on social media, and a quick search produced some really disgusting comments, praising the former Dixie Chicks and saying they must be having a fabulous day, things just got worse from there with the vitriol hitting new lows, and that’s saying a lot, because I've seen some extremely vile comments, I spent days blocking comments celebrating Dad’s passing on Twitter in 2020, and sadly, that is something I still have to do from time to time.
So, I can’t imagine hating someone so much that you would gleefully post about someone’s death.
That brings me to another issue today, February 7, is Garth Brooks' birthday. I debated posting happy birthday because I know he’s a polarizing figure due to his political beliefs, so I was prepared for some pushback, but it’s gotten pretty ugly. Lots of “Garth is a communist.” Garth is this… Garth is that… F. Garth! “and so forth… Not a whole lot better than the FUTK crowd.
But Dad and Garth were friends, and Garth did covers of “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye” when he was starting out, and occasionally still does “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Garth even supports the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center so they could find common ground on certain issues.
Brad Paisley is also someone whose beliefs are probably as diametrically opposed from Dad's as they could possibly be, but Brad and Dad collaborated on an instrumental for Dad’s “Deuces” album, and Brad invited Dad to narrate the takedown of an abusive husband by his wife who had been taking self-defense classes in his 2013 song, “Karate.”
Here’s the long-awaited point, if Dad and Garth, and Dad and Brad can disagree on practically every issue out there, but remain friends, then we should be able to do the same.
There's more to be gained by discussion and communication than just "F you, you're wrong!" Just like what is going on with the Dixie Chicks fans right now who are celebrating Toby Keith's death, it’s absolutely disgusting and uncalled for.
We can and should be able to agree to disagree, and I absolutely disagree with Garth and Brad's political leanings, but both have been absolute gentlemen any time I was ever around them, and I understand how passionate and important some of the issues are, but I don’t think either of them are evil people.
Being wrong, even horribly wrong and misguided doesn't necessarily mean you are a bad person. It just means I believe that your worldview is mistaken, but that's the beauty of living in our great nation, you have the right to be wrong, even horribly wrong.
I understand how passionate many of us are about our beliefs, but we don't have to let it manifest as hatred. That doesn't help anything.
People do change, and sometimes those around them change so much that they have no choice but to go the other direction. Ronald Reagan famously said he didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him by moving so far to the left.
Dad had several employees that were staunch Democrats but they worked hard for him up until July 6, 2020, and did a great job for him because there was always mutual respect.
We’re not always going to agree, but we can do better than “F You! You’re wrong!”
Despite those resurrecting the F.U.T.K. mantra, we lost a great American patriot this week, no matter what the keyboard social justice warriors say, but maybe we can turn things around…
Let’s co-opt the phrase that Ms. Maines made famous with something better than… Fu… better than the original.
Fans United for Toby Keith
Forever Uniquely Toby Keith
Those are just a couple of ideas, feel free to add your own.
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
- Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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