Welcome to Radio Feedback, Radio.com’s weekly feature where we ask artists to wax nostalgic on the first time they heard themselves on the radio.
Long before Toby Keith was a familiar name atop the Billboard charts, he was fighting to leave his mark on country radio listeners. In a recent phone interview with Radio.com, Keith recalled the very first time he heard his song on the radio.
“There were three brand new artists on Mercury [Nashville Records] in ’93; it was me and Shania Twain and a guy named John Brannen,” he explained. “We were all on one bus doing live shows for these radio concerts. We were going around doing a lot of press. We were brand new artists and they called us the Triple Play Tour because they put our three singles out two weeks apart.”
Keith explained the situation as a “survival of the fittest type deal,” stressing how hard it is to get airplay as “a brand new nobody.” For him, Twain and Brannen, the dream of hearing their music on the radio was close to becoming a reality.
“We were all on the bus and we were going through Bowling Green, Kentucky, sitting in the back talking,” he said. “All of us were new and giddy and happy about this opportunity. Right there on the radio it came on and we were all high-fiving.”
The song he heard was his debut single, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” Released in February of 1993, it went to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart four months later and edged into crossover hit territory, peaking at No. 93 on the Hot 100.
Written by Keith, the song romanticizes life as a cowboy. “I might have had a sidekick with a funny name/Running wild in the hills chasing Jesse James,” he sings.