Toby Keith Wrote His First Song At 14 Years Old

Toby Keith / Instagram

Toby Keith was undeniably skilled at delivering engaging performances, his true forte was in songwriting—an ability he perfected over numerous years of practice.

Toby Keith recently revealed that he wrote his first-ever song when he was just 14 or 15 years old, titled “If You’re Handing Out A Heartache.”

In a video posted to Keith’s social media, shared shortly before his passing, Keith reminisced about crafting his first song as a teenager.

“It wasn’t bad. It was structured right, but it wasn’t very good either. But the people around here when I played it, they were like ‘Wow, that’s a great song.’ It’s just a song. That was 5,000 songs ago.”


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Toby Keith Certainly Knew How To Write A Good Song

Toby Keith also shared some of his valuable insights for aspiring songwriters, drawing from his rich experience in the country music scene. His magic as a lyricist? It’s all about his ability to craft emotionally resonant and universally relatable lyrics, capturing the essence of life’s ups and downs.

“Most advice I have for songwriters would be to just toll away every day. Most of my catalog was written at a time when I was writing at least four or five days a week. You got to have volume, you got to have practice, you got to keep your chops up, and you got to stay in the middle of the game.”


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RELATED: Toby Keith Shares One-Of-A-Kind Advice To Songwriters

Toby Keith Explains How He Wrote “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”

One of Keith’s most renowned songs is “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” which was his debut single in 1993. It quickly climbed the charts and became a smash hit, reaching the number one spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

The song’s nostalgic lyrics and catchy melody resonated with audiences, making it a staple of country music. Its theme of longing for the cowboy lifestyle struck a chord with listeners, contributing to its enduring popularity.

“I should’ve been a cowboy /

I should’ve learned to rope and ride /

Wearin’ my six-shooter, ridin’ my pony on a cattle drive /

Stealin’ the young girls’ hearts /

Just like Gene and Roy /

Singin’ those campfire songs /

Woah, I should’ve been a cowboy.”

RELATED: Remember When Carrie Underwood Sang “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” To Honor Toby Keith?

Toby Keith recently divulged the untold tale behind the creation of his enduring hit, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.”

The behind-the-scenes story was shared in a video posted on Keith’s social media platforms, as part of the promotion for his latest music release, 100% Songwriter. This album showcases a selection of his most beloved songs from his extensive career, written entirely by Keith.

Keith shared the story behind the song, recalling a hunting trip with friends in Dodge City, Kansas, where he was finishing his debut album. The ambiance of the Old West town, reminiscent of Gunsmoke, stuck with him.

Situated at a steakhouse bar, Keith and his friends witnessed a hunter’s unsuccessful attempt to woo a cowgirl. Her rejection prompted a friend to joke, “John, you should’ve been a cowboy.”

That simple remark sparked immediate inspiration for a song.

“So, I thought, ‘I’m going to write that.’ I took my guitar, sat on the side of the motel tub, and shut the door so no one could hear me,” Keith said in the video.

In just 20 minutes, Toby Keith crafted one of his most memorable hits.

Listen to the classic song below!

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