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Toby Keith - Big Dog Daddy Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 August 2007
format:    16-bit CD
performance:    4
sound:    3
released:    2007
label:    Show Dog Records
reviewer:    K L Poore

ImageFor those of you who missed my previous lecture, and were unable to obtain notes from a classmate, here’s an overview. While discussing the previous Toby Keith cringe inducer, White Trash with Money, I put forth this proposition: if I bought this newest release of his on a lark because I was feeling a little guilty about hating Keith’s music so much, how bad could it be? It’s not like it would make me want to poke my eyes out or something …

Forty minutes later: I’m glad they put those little raised bumps on the F and J keys, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to continue to write music reviews.

I revisit this all too recent past because in the interest of fairness and accuracy in reporting, I must declare that this one is much better. I mean my review. Toby Keith’s Big Dog Daddy completely blucks, which, of course, is the act of blowing and sucking at the same time.

Blucking may get you a lifetime gig at Rosa’s Casa de Chupa in Juárez but in today’s country music scene it only gets you a week at #1 on the charts and endless radio plays for a song like “High Maintenance Woman,” with lyrics like “She’s my baby doll/she’s my beauty queen/she’s my movie star/best I ever seen,” drawled over a riff that John Mellencamp would throw away for sounding too “me.”

So, all that being said, today’s lecture is entitled, “Why buy Big Dog Daddy in a world filled with turmoil?”
Perhaps the masses purchase it for the meaningful lyrics of the Wiseman-Wallin tear-fest, “Love Me If You Can.” “My father gave me my shotgun,” Keith sings in a voice that drips sentiment like a honey bee regurgitates nectar, “that I'll hand down to my son/try to teach him everything it means.” Holy God he’s really telling it like it is in this crazy coo-coo world! “There are a lot of homeless people out there who are lazy, drunk or hooked on drugs,” he says about the song, “but there are some who might just be down on their luck. So I may feel like the homeless should just get up and go to work, but I won’t stop giving money to charitable organizations that help people on the street.”

It’s all so simple! If only every homeless person had been given a shotgun by their father, we wouldn’t be in this horrible mess. I see a fad coming, black and blue “Arm the Homeless” ribbons. Toby should get right on that, ‘cause it’ll sell millions.

Maybe those masses want to relive the small town past of Fred Eaglesmith’s “White Rose.” According to the song those damn city folks don’t get lost and end up in small towns like they used to. Nope, stupid ol’ super highways ensure that locals are the only ones trapped in a Twilight Zone world where it’s all about the 50-cent gas, wiping the windows and checking the oil. And now they’ve had to board up the broken windows on the White Rose, which is said to be a “filling station” but which I secretly believe to be a funeral parlor for those who stayed behind to perform one last erotic small town blood lust exorcism. Well, maybe that last bit is me trying to make the song a little more exciting, but answer me this, Toby: who broke the damn windows? It wasn’t those city folks ‘cause they’re just driving by these days. Maybe it’s those damned homeless people who weren’t given their own shotguns.

I believe there’s a strong possibility that people flock to Toby Keith’s oeuvre in order to bask in the glow of what I like to call the “catch phrase cliché song.” There are at least three on Big Dog Daddy: “Get My Drink On,” “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” and “Walk It Off.” There’s no way for me to accurately convey how simple these beauties are, so I think I’ll let Toby do it himself … in words and, well, more words, because the music just doesn’t matter that much.

“Get My Drink On” contains the immortal lines, “Well I got some little problems/and the only way to solve 'em/is the sure-fire way I know/and when the going gets tough/well the tough get going/to the little bar down the road.” Talking about the writing of the song, Keith said, “It fell out in about 45 minutes.” I never would have guessed.

There’s nothing more that I can say about “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” that isn’t already explained in its Shakespearean grouping of vowels and consonants. “Hey goodbye senorita/you sure been a friend of mine/she said well adios amigo/some other place, some other time. Then we drank a shot of tequila/baby 'till we meet again/she just said I'll see ya/wouldn't wanna be ya.” My heart has been set a-flutter, and as soon as I finish this sentence I’m running out to buy my black and blue ribbon and beg people to give me a shotgun.

Finally there’s the lushly romantic ode to getting dumped, “Walk it Off,”
about which Toby says, “It gets a little deep, maybe too deep for typical country fare.” Here’s the opening line. “Pick up all the pieces/of your broken heart/you don’t have to worry/she don’t care no more.” I’m telling you, I couldn’t make this stuff up. I would also like to remind you at this point of the concept of blucking.

I’d really like to end the lecture now but I feel I must address the title cut before opting out of this horror show. “Big Dog Daddy” is simply remarkable, in that it is the most Ed Wood song I’ve ever heard. I can actually see Toby turning to the guys in the studio and saying, “That was perfect,” with an otherworldly gleam in his eye. The music sounds like bad George Thorogood (an oxymoron?), or perhaps a badly done rip-off of the Who’s “Long Live Rock,” with a tinny girl chorus added to repeat the title whenever it escapes from the Tobester’s mouth. “I am a big dog daddy, yeah/a big dog daddy/boys stand back and the girls are gettin’ catty/somethin' goin’ down with the big dog daddy.” I have no fucking idea what that’s supposed to mean, but after some reading I came to understand that the song, and the whole album concept, came from him shilling the latest Ford super truck at a sales event in Texas. Artistic integrity of this sort is hard to find.

There are a few other songs on the CD but … ehh, who cares? The lecture is effectively over because the answer’s been revealed like Mother Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich. Why buy Big Dog Daddy in a world filled with turmoil? Because it’s comfort food for people who don’t want a little thinking to get in the way of their music. It’s a simplistic sugary pile that’s bad for you and could possibly kill, with prolonged exposure. It’s more commerce than art. Whether it’s for Ford, or days gone by, or against those pesky people who live out behind the dumpster, its only reason for being is to sell you whatever Toby Keith is selling in the song. Buy booze! Buy romance! Buy false memories of a past that never was. Be the common man! Hit that stuff in the short skirt! Be the Big Dog Daddy of your neighborhood!

I’m glad my daddy never gave me a shotgun … because all alone here in my office, I’d use it.

Big Dog Daddy is professionally recorded and played. If the physical act of playing the instruments could have made the music better, it might almost be listenable. I know this record has been mixed but it sounds like a jumble of instruments fighting to get to the front, next to Toby’s voice, which basically sounds exactly the same on every cut. He almost drifts into a Dwight Yoakam twang on “Pump Jack,” but catches himself and moves back into his safe, emotionless, range. The guitars are okay and the drums sound like they were recorded out behind the barn. Whether you play this on an expensive home theater system, car stereo or computer, it sounds the same. I guess that could be another selling point, as if it needed one. Overall the sound blucks as much as the songs do.

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