Country Throwback: Watch Toby Keith, Willie Nelson Crush ‘Beer for My Horses’ at CMA’s in 2003

by Atlanta Northcutt
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Toby Keith and Willie Nelson are both amazing performers so when they team up country music magic is created.

Rocking at the CMAs With “Beer For My Horses”

The live performance at the 2003 CMA Awards is an unforgettable moment. Toby plays the guitar and begins singing the first verses. Nelson and Keith alternate between the lyrics and sing together in the chorus in perfect harmony. Their deep voices with Willie’s being more distinct creates a softer, yet still rocking tune.

As Willie begins to sing, the crowd erupts in applause.

The performance was an absolute hit for both the audience and viewers alike.

Willie Nelson and Toby Keith Team Up

Willie Nelson is a country music legend. He’s also an idol to many artists in the genre. In fact, Willie was the inspiration behind Toby Keith’s “Beer For My Horses.”

“With Willie’s phrasing and everything, we were thinking wouldn’t it be great if Willie would do it,” Keith tells CMT. “And Willie does so many duets, I just assumed he’d say yes. I hoped he would. So we went ahead and wrote it to where it would fit his phrasing.”

Toby Keith got his wish to play with his hero when the country stars teamed up to perform a duet of “Beer For My Horses.”

The two originally connected while at a Nashville restaurant where Keith pitched the idea to Nelson, hoping he would accept his offer.

“I said, ‘Well send me whatever y’all want to do,’” says Nelson. “Later on that afternoon, we were hanging out on the bus and I said, ‘Toby, what’s the name of that song?’ And he said, ‘Whiskey for My Men, Beer for My Horses.’ And I said, ‘Well, let’s go cut it.’ That’s all I needed to hear was the title.”

Creating the Perfect Version of “Beer For My Horses”

The legendary outlaw helped to perfect the song. After being in the industry for decades, Nelson knows how to create good country music. The advice he gives is something to hold onto. I mean, Willie Nelson is a pro. However, Willie understands Keith’s desire to create his own sound, and he finds that admirable.

“If Toby’s anything like we were, he’s not going to listen to any advice we give him anyway,” Nelson says. “He knows what direction he wants to go, and I’m all for him, and I like his spunk and I like his spirit.”

The country artists released an album including the duet “Beer For My Horses” in 2002, along with an official music video.

Keith couldn’t be happier as he says, “I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. But when you meet someone like that and you get to know them, finding you’ve got so much in common and so many common friends, I don’t know how we waited until two or three years ago to get to know each other. We’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for the same people.”

Once they finally got together, Keith was finally able to perform with his idol resulting in a No. 1 hit.

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