Keith has been writing for the album with regular cohorts such as Bobby Pinson and Eddie Raven, while Brandy Clark, Bob DiPiero and Shane McAnally cooked up "Drunk Americans" for him. Keith was recently gratified to hear that track playing in the Los Angeles Dodgers' locker room following a game -- and in a one-two tandem with "Red Solo Cup." "(The songs) don't have to go to No. 1 anymore," he notes. "It comes out and your fans go get it."
The idea for the track "35 MPH Town," meanwhile, came from a phone call with Pinson. "He was coming back from Alabama or something, back to Nashville," Keith recalls. "He was on a little ol' two-lane highway. He called me up and said, 'I got an idea for a song...Every 20 miles I've got to slow down and go through one of those 35 miles per hour towns.' We started talking about it, and by the time I saw him he had a little piece of it put together, and I said, 'I want to talk about growing up in that little town and about how life has changed,' and we went from there."
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As for the rest of the album -- the follow-up to 2013's top 5 "Drinks After Work" Keith says, "it's very much the same thing you hear from me the whole way. It's real earthy. There's one acoustic song on there. There's some hard-driving stuff. Of course, my songs sound like songs 10, 20 years ago on the radio. They don't sound like songs today, so they're accepted a little differently now, but I'm not gonna go and do any hip-hop or country hip-hop or none of that stuff. I can do that; in fact, 1998 I had a song called 'Getcha Some' which was probably the first rap-country song on the radio. But I let the songs decide; I don't go in and say, 'Hey, I'm gonna do an acoustic album' or have a theme. I let the songs determine the tempos and the sound of the album, and then it's just like a picture album -- 'Here's the pictures I took since last time.' It's just a good songwriter album."
That's appropriate, of course, given Keith's Songwriters Hall of Fame induction last month in New York City. Keith has had his differences with various music industry award shows -- don't get him started unless you've got a lot of time to listen -- but this time he has no complaints.
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"I've about boycotted all the music awards shows, but this is one I wouldn't miss for nothin'," Keith says. "This means the world to me because there's nothing crooked about this. You're voted in by your peers. You're voted in by your enemies, for that matter...people who might not like some of the things I've said or written about. But they just look at my numbers and said, 'Hey, I guess you get good enough numbers. We'll vote you in.' It's a vote of my peers, not by some membership or an organization or anything that can be corrupt. This is a big deal to me and the only thing I ever wanted. I can get this and I don't need to get anything else."