Story Behind the Song: Toby Keith, ‘Should’ve Been a Cowboy’
Toby Keith scored his first No. 1 hit with his debut single, 1993's "Should've Been a Cowboy." When he was inspired to write the song after witnessing a dance-floor rejection, however, the young artist could scarcely have imagined that the track would catapult him into massive country stardom, launching a long and prolific career.
Read on to learn the story behind "Should've Been a Cowboy," in Keith's own words.
We'd been pheasant hunting in Dodge City, [Kan.], so I already had [the TV show] Gunsmoke on my mind. And the town had a few things in there that ... they played off that. And I think we were actually at a place called the Long Branch or Miss Kitty's Saloon -- ssomething to do with Gunsmoke. It was a steakhouse and combo, five o'clock kind of thing. We're all in hunting clothes, there's 20 guys, and they're feeding us.
This highway patrolman who I'd met on this trip, his name was John ... He jumps up, and he was probably 45 or 50 back then. And he runs over by a 25-year-old cowgirl, and he says he was gonna show how he can bust a move. She turns him down, and then a few minutes later, he comes back and says she don't dance. So they're giving him a bunch of steam over it.
So that was not quite 15 minutes later, a young cowboy comes in, and off they go on the dance floor. Everybody's making fun of him. And somebody says, "John, I guess you should've been a cowboy."
I thought, "I oughta write "Should've Been a Cowboy."" I didn't know what to do with it. So I thought, 'I betcha never heard Marshall Dillon say he had any woman problems, 'cause Miss Kitty was always knocking his back door down.' I started writing it, and it grew into Jesse James and riding shotgun and Gene [Autry] and Roy [Rogers]. It all happened in about 20 minutes.
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