by Julian Spivey
On Friday, Jan. 13 it was announced that country music singer Toby Keith and rock band 3 Doors Down would be performing at the inauguration for President-elect Donald Trump.
I honestly don’t care about 3 Doors Down, who Esquire harshly, but probably rightfully declared as worse than Nickelback.
Keith who has a good body of work that I like – though hasn’t released much worthwhile in more than a decade – performing at Trump’s inauguration shouldn’t surprise anyone. Keith has been outspoken politically in the past on conservative topics, like his defense of the War in Iraq during President George W. Bush’s administration. Keith performing at Trump’s inauguration frankly fits his brand. It will excite most of his fan-base and most of those irritated by his performance at the event would never listen to or buy his music anyway. It also is a way to get Keith back into the spotlight – something he hasn’t been in for many years. Country radio stations, even, don’t play much of his newer stuff anymore and he hasn’t had a top 20 single since President Barack Obama’s first term, despite releasing three albums during that span. Playing at Trump’s inauguration essentially can only help Toby Keith.
One of my issues with Keith’s performance at the inauguration is I know with 100 percent certainty that it’s not something his heroes and idols Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson ever would’ve done. And, even though one can have differing political opinions than one’s heroes it somewhat irks me that a man who loves these legends and their music doesn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with them in such important topics that for many are more issues of morality than politics.
Haggard died more than half a year before Trump was elected, but during the campaign when Trump was gaining traction, but still viewed as a longshot seemed concerned that Trump wasn’t qualified for the highest position in our land. Haggard told Rolling Stone two months before his death: “He’s not a politician. I don’t think he understands the way things work in Washington, that’s what worries me about him. I don’t think he realizes he can’t just tell somebody to do something and have it done, you know. I think he’s dealing from a strange deck.”
Had Haggard survived through the election there’s no doubt he would’ve had more to say about Trump as President.
Nelson, who supported Democrats Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton during the election, has a song at least partially inspired by Trump on his upcoming album God’s Problem Child. The song titled “Delete and Fast-Forward” includes the lyrics: “Delete and fast-forward, my friend/The elections are over and nobody wins/But don’t worry too much, you’ll go crazy again/delete and fast-forward my friend.” The lyrics were mentioned by Nelson in a recent Rolling Stone article and when the magazine asked if the lyrics suggested fast-forwarding only four years Nelson simply said, “yeah.”
Part of what makes America such a great place is we don’t all have to agree on or believe in the same things, but Trump is supposed to be the President for everybody in this country and seems to only want to be the leader of a certain faction. Haggard and Nelson would never support that. Keith seemingly is OK with lending his support to it, even if he just views it as supporting his country and military. “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” he told Entertainment Weekly on Friday, Jan. 13.