Tuesday marked a big night for country music icon Toby Keith, who’s largely remained out of the public eye since announcing his stomach cancer diagnosis over the summer. Keith, who has 32 No. 1 singles and has sold tens of millions of albums throughout his long career, received the BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) Icon Award this week, and in celebration of his latest achievement, fellow megastar Eric Church honored him with a Chief-style cover of the singer’s hit “I Love This Bar.”
Church, whose musical style drastically differs from Toby Keith’s, took to the stage at the BMI Awards with just his acoustic guitar and his usual aviator sunglasses. The video above sees the “Heart On Fire” singer significantly drop the tempo of the 2003 hit. His vocals bring a new kind of intensity to the lyrics that traditionally reflect an easy-does-it kind of attitude.
While Eric Church has a massive fanbase and largely sees positive feedback at all of his performances, some Toby Keith fans were not entirely impressed with the Chief’s cover of the song.
“Yeah…no,” one fan simply commented on the above clip. Another added, “Sounds like he forgot to rehearse and went up there and winged it…my man did not understand the assignment.”
Others, however, loved the singer’s take on the Toby Keith classic. A third fan wrote in the comments, “Love EC. One of the very best concerts I have ever been to.”
Toby Keith Makes Appearance at Kentucky Steakhouse Performing ‘I Love This Bar’
While we can’t fault Eric Church for wanting to put his own spin on Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar,” this writer in particular is especially partial to the original. Earlier this week, Toby Keith surprised fans at a Kentucky steakhouse with his own version of the early-2000s single, marking his first performance since receiving his cancer diagnosis in June.
The clip, which you can view here, sees the 6’3 singer dressed in comfortable blue jeans, a well-worn jacket, and a baseball hat, launching into the first lines of “I Love This Bar.”
“We got winners, we got losers,” the country music singer croons, “Chain smokers and boozers, and we got yuppies, we got bikers, thirsty hitchhikers…”
According to Cincinatti.com, Toby Keith’s Lexington performance saw him take to the stage alongside Ohio restauranteur Jeff Ruby. Their duet took place at Ruby’s Lexington restaurant Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse. Before launching into his performance of “I Love This Bar.”
Sadly, Toby Keith is still struggling with his cancer battle, meaning that while he’s slowly making more public appearances, it’s still difficult for him to get up and perform at will like he used to. His Lexington performance came just a few months after he was forced to cancel his appearance at a semiannual California fundraiser.
Toby Keith’s team revealed at the time, “He is still in recovery and is having a tough week. [Keith is] not yet up for travel.”
The singer himself also previously spoke out about some of his physical struggles amid his cancer battle.
In June, the singer said, “I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation, and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover, and relax…I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.”