Toby Keith Opens Up About Recording Song ‘Old Me Better’

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Toby Keith recently opened up about the song “Old Me Better” from his recent album, and why he knew he had to record it as soon as he heard it.

In a video on Instagram, Keith revealed that the song is originally by an artist named Keb’ Mo’. A friend of Keith’s heard the song and got in touch. “He heard this Keb’ Mo’ song,” said Keith, “and he sent a message to us saying ‘somebody needs to cut this, and you’re the guy to do it.'”

Keith continued, “So I listened to it, and he was right. And so I kept it in my pile until I decided to go cut an album, and record it. And they brought Keb’ Mo’ and he played guitar [on the song].”

The song is a fun journey from the perspective of a man who has changed his mind about being in a relationship. He appreciates his woman and what she’s done for him, and admits that they’re a good match. But, he also admits that he misses who he used to be. He was more fun, partied all night, and “didn’t take crap from anyone.” Now, he’s wearing a sweater, goes to church, and doesn’t drink as much. A travesty.

Usually, when we get songs about men who want to break up with their girlfriends, they’re sad, even spiteful. But this song is still appreciative and loving, even though this man clearly wants to be the way he was. He knows that his girlfriend has changed him into a better person. He just misses being a tough-talking, hard-drinking degenerate. It’s a rare perspective and one that I thoroughly enjoy.

Toby Keith Expertly Covers Song by Keb’ Mo’

The main difference between the two songs is that Toby Keith changed the order of the lyrics a bit. His version is also a little more country, whereas Keb’ Mo’ wrote his song with a little more of a New Orleans jazz sound. In a live version, Keb’ Mo’ plays with The California Feetwarmers, a band consisting of a tuba, two banjos, trombone, trumpet, snare drum, and a washboard.

The original is so much fun, really gets you up and dancing, and is definitely worth a listen. In comparison, Keith’s version paints a picture of a typical country boy dissatisfied with his life. The ending of Keith’s version gets a little jazzy, though; it’s hard to explain, you just have to hear it.

All in all, this is a great song, and both versions of it have their own merit. It’s worth listening to both, as the sound is so different that the imagery even changes, even though the words are the same. An interesting turn of events, but one that I definitely enjoyed.