Country Throwback: Toby Keith Pays Tribute to First Responders in 2001’s ‘My List’ Music Video

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Toby Keith pays tribute to the hard work and sacrifices of first responders in this country throwback. Keith’s “My List” came at a time when the country felt exposed and vulnerable. The country superstar released the song as his first single following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Keith didn’t record the song as a tribute to the attacks. It was actually written and recorded prior to the terrorist attacks. But the song’s message and tone provided some comfort for millions of people in collective grieving. The song explores putting what’s important first like spending time with family and friends.

When it came time to film the music video, Keith dedicated the song to both first responders and as a tribute to the victims of the attacks. The music video features footage of the 9/11 attacks as a shell-shocked couple watches the news. Later in the video, viewers realize the man is a firefighter himself.

While the song topped the country charts, Keith didn’t measure the tune’s success by chart position.

“So it’s more about the impact of the song with the people than it is the chart,” Keith said.

Toby Keith Dedicates Songs to the 9/11 Attacks

“My List’ wasn’t the only time that Keith dedicated his music to capture the feelings of a nation in mourning. Following the attacks, he recorded “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” in 2002. That song voiced the collective anger and outrage many Americans felt following the attacks.

The song envisioned America as a wrathful god, newly awoken and ready to strike down those who wronged it. Keith’s father, a military veteran, inspired the song.

“So I thought about my dad, being the veteran he was and the flag-flying patriot he was,” Keith told CMT. “He did lose his right eye. He did come home, and he never did gripe about it. So that’s the reason I wrote the song — for him.”

Later, Keith recorded “American Soldier” as a tribute to America’s military and the bond and shared kinship they feel.