Toby Keith Reveals Real Meaning Of ‘Don’t Let The Old Man In’

Toby Keith / YouTube
News, Toby Keith
Shawn Lealos

Tobk Keith made his big national return from his cancer battle with an incredible live performance. He performed an older song at the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards. More so, it didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. The song was “Don’t Let the Old Man In” and it was a song that Keith released before his cancer battle.

Here is everything you need to know about “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

Toby Keith’s ‘Don’t Let the Old Man In’

When Toby Keith showed up at the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards, he chose to perform an older song when he sang “Don’t Let the Old Man In.” The performance occasionally moved to his wife in the audience, as she was in tears as he sang the song. This makes sense as it tells the story of Toby returning from his cancer battle and not wanting to grow old.

Toby Keith / YouTube

However, that is not what the song is about – or at least, that wasn’t the intention behind him writing the song. Toby wrote “Don’t Let the Old Man In” in 2018. Yet, it wasn’t a song for one of his studio albums. Instead, the song was part of the soundtrack for the Clint Eastwood movie The Mule.

That movie told the true life story of a man named Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel. He was in his 80s when he took this job. Then, he ended up sentenced to three years in prison at the age of 90. The Mule changed things in his story, but it was the same tale.

When released, “Don’t Let the Old Man In” peaked at 41st on the U.S. Country Airplay charts and 45th on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts. That was Keith’s highest-charting single since “Drunk Americans” in 2015. In 2023, after he performed it at the People’s Choice Country Awards, it peaked at 3rd on the U.S. Digital Song Sales charts.

Toby Keith On Who Inspired His Song

Toby Keith learned about his cancer diagnosis in June 2022, four years after he released “Don’t Let the Old Man In.” While Keith had watched his career slow down thanks to country music radio not playing him as much, the song wasn’t about him growing old or resisting aging. It had a different origin.

Instead, Toby Keith came up with the idea for the song by talking to the movie’s director, Clint Eastwood. Keith said he watched Clint working so hard and not slowing down. This shocked him because Clint, at the time, was 88. He said he asked what was keeping Clint going at that age.

Toby said that Clint answered, “‘I try to get up every day and be productive — not let that old man in.'” Keith said it inspired him. Therefore, he wrote the song and sent it to Clint, who chose to put it in the movie. Toby also added it to his 2019 album, Greatest Hits: The Show Dog Years.

What are your thoughts on Toby Keith’s story about writing “Don’t Let the Old Man In?” Does it have a new meaning for you now thanks to his cancer battle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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