Revisiting Toby Keith’s 2002 Hit: “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)”
via Toby Keith / YouTube
In the years following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the United States witnessed a surge of patriotism, reflected vividly in its music scene. Among the notable tunes echoing the sentiments of unity and resilience was Toby Keith’s resounding anthem, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).”
Remembering Toby Keith: A Patriotic Legacy
Toby Keith, a towering figure in the realm of country music who recently passed away at the age of 62, left an indelible mark with his unabashed displays of love for his country. The genesis of this iconic song traces back to the poignant moment when Keith’s father, Hubert “H.K.” Covel, a veteran, passed away in March 2001, followed shortly by the harrowing terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Crafted with a fervent spirit, the song emerged as the lead single from Keith’s acclaimed album “Unleashed,” hitting a remarkable stride by climbing to number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Recalling the genesis of the song, Keith shared a candid anecdote, revealing how the lyrics took shape on the back of a Fantasy Football sheet.
Keith reminisced at a media event, as reported by The Boot.
“I wrote [‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’] on the back of a Fantasy Football sheet that was laying there; I just turned it and wrote around the edges and, in about 20 minutes, wrote the lyric out and called it ‘The Angry American,'”
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The song, although initially titled “The Angry American,” underwent a transformation at the suggestion of others.
“When I turned it in, they said, ‘Well, it really doesn’t say ‘angry American’ in there. Why don’t you call it ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue?” So, I did,” Keith explained.
Embedded within the lyrics are poignant references to Keith’s father’s military service and the profound impact of the September 11th attacks. Reflecting on the motivation behind the song, Keith shared his personal connection, stating,
“So I thought about my dad, being the veteran he was and the flag-flying patriot he was. He served in the Army. He did lose his right eye. He did come home, and he never did gripe about it.”
The song’s resonant verses, such as “Hey Uncle Sam, put your name at the top of his list / And the Statue of Liberty started shakin’ her fist / And the eagle will fly man, it’s gonna be hell,” encapsulate the fervor and defiance that swept through the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Despite penning the song in 2001
Keith hesitated to record it immediately. However, a pivotal encounter at the Pentagon, where he performed for service members, reignited his resolve.
“(The commander) said, ‘You’ve got to release that as a single … That’s the most amazing battle song I’ve ever heard in my life.’ And so I prayed about it and discussed it with everybody for a long time, because I knew it was going to cause a storm,” Keith revealed.
Ultimately, driven by the profound impact the song had on those who served, Keith decided to release it, fully aware of the potential controversy it might provoke. Yet, propelled by his unwavering commitment to honoring his father’s memory and paying tribute to the resilience of the American spirit, Keith’s anthem continues to echo proudly, reminding listeners of the enduring power of patriotism and unity.