Toby Keith, “Love Me If You Can”

Toby Keith, “Love Me If You Can”

Toby makes a surprisingly earnest attempt to soften his image, wishing we could all just agree to disagree before our debates turn to angry words, and praying for peace on earth, even though war is sometimes necessary. Then he says he’s a man of his convictions: “Hate me if you want, love me if you can.” As standing-your-ground songs go, this hardly rises to the brilliant defiance of “Not Ready to Make Nice”, but I was digging it until he compared himself to Christ. That’s pushing it, buddy.

Grade: B

Listen: Love Me If You Can

Buy: Love Me If You Can


  1. Not really a bad release, but not what I expected either. Let’s face it: Toby is a force to be reckoned with. And he’s built an empire as a take no prisoners, in your face, ass-kicking rebel. I hoped that he’d have a response to the Dixie Chickens, I mean Dixie Chicks, and their continued efforts to keep the rivalry they started with Keith alive. If this is the best that Toby could offer, this was a weak attempt at best. I’d just as soon he flipped them the bird, and drawn comparisons to another J.C. Leave Jesus out of this one, and take it old school Johnny Cash.

    In all fairness, its destined to do well on radio, and draw the same audience that Toby’s “My List” got a few years ago. He will draw a bit of ire from the “Angry American” crowd, but with his pop appeal, will remain mostly unscathed. In closing, I have to ask, is it now Toby who’s “ready to make nice”? God, I hope not.

  2. “Dixie Chickens”. Saying that just makes you look silly. The Chicks haven’t bothered with the Toby Keith thing since the FUTK t-shirt in 2003, and don’t seem to have much interest in bothering with the industry side of country music at all. If anything, it seems like Toby is trying to rekindle a bit of that era with this single. He’s simply not seen as a controversial figure anymore, as far as I can tell. The hoopla around him has calmed down and he’s gone back to being a solid radio artist. I welcome him leaving the “I’m a tough guy/I’m a victim, nobody likes me” dual personality behind and just going back to making good music. I’ve liked his music since his very first album and he’s always been one of my favorite male vocalists, but it was getting very old hearing him whine about not winning CMA awards and Grammys.

  3. You know what. forget the frigain rivalry between the CHicks and Toby. WHo gives a damn. It’s old news get over it.

    I think the song is awsome and its a song. It may be contradictory to Toby Keith’s original attitude but that doesn’t mean anything. Most artists are trying to relate to their fans not themselves in these kinds of optomistic songs anyways.

    Forget who Toby “is”, forget his rivalry with the Dixie Chicks which he hasn’t spoken of for a very long time probably because he’s sick of hearing about it, and listen to the damn song. Toby’s an awsome singer and knows a good song. Take it for what it is, inspirational and relative not competetive and expresive of the artists self.

  4. Blue for a reason, I must say. The day that country artists stop expressing themselves in their music is the day that the heart of country music stops beating. The same heart that led to Hank Williams, and the pure, unfiltered emotion that he brought to his music let you know exactly how he was feeling, and let the listener relate, and feel through his voice. You think that Johnny Cash didn’t feel, or dare I say live his catalog?!? Listen to Hurt, then work your way back through over thirty years of his music and you might understand.

    This kind of mindset, as displayed by Cowboy Blue is exactly what the hell is wrong with Nashville and the majority of artists on the scene today. Sure, forget the rivalry, or lack of, between the Chicks and Toby. I didn’t realize how sensative you kids would be about it in the first place. This comment bothers me even more that the source of that little feud. MUSIC MUST BE REAL!!! It must come from the heart, or its just another addition to the steaming pile of horse s@#t pop country that eats at the genre like a cancer. Artists that achieve longevity and belong in the business are those that sing from the heart. Those whose music is a reflection of themselves. There is no other way. Take all the sales formulas and demographics and piss on them like the trash that they are. Don’t allow this sad and tragic attitude to ruin what myself and many others love and cherish: real country music. I’m going to go be sick now, and pray that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Please, somebody, back me up. Alan Jackson and George Strait have already mourned the Murder On Music Row. Let’s stop it short of a massacre!!

  5. Toby has hit the nail on the head with this one. This song says everything most of the nation would say if we spoke from our hearts.

    TK, Good job.

  6. Excuse me Kevin but you are wrong on that account. Toby hasn’t had anything to say about the chicks since he made the statement on how dumb he was for getting involved with it. They did that so called movie and brought it up not Toby. Toby has been over that for a long time. This song had nothing to do with the chicks and I’m glad he hasn’t brought it up.

    Every time someone does an interview with him they bring it up. If the reporters would leave it alone it would go away.

  7. You’re right, Jean, about the fact that Toby talks about it because reporters ask him abou it. However, the Chicks haven’t been bothered. It’s in the documentary but that footage is from 2003. The Chicks didn’t edit the film; the filmmakers chose to put it in. They didn’t make Toby out to be too much of an asshole, which is no small feat, given the reality.

  8. Sorry for being late on this, but I feel that this song should wake up the closed mined country music fan. How can you possibly love this song and most specifically it’s message and still condemn the Dixie Chicks.

    “I stand by my right to speak freely. But I worry ’bout what kids learn from TV. And before all of debatin’ turns to angry words and hate, sometimes we should just agree to disagree.”

    That say’s it all.

  9. Well, comparing Not Ready To Make Nice to Love Me If You Can is like comparing a nobody like Gretchen Wilson to Martina McBride.

    Sometimes, exposing your vulnerable side brings out your best stuff. Johnny Cash did that in Hurt, and Toby’s doing it with Love Me If You Can.

  10. You’d have to be a delusional fan of Toby Keith to seriously think that the Dixie Chicks play Gretchen Wilson to his Martina McBride.

    Though given that you’re picking Martina as the gold standard in the first place is further evidence of your pedestrian understanding of country music. Got a reference point that hasn’t topped the chart in the last four years?

  11. Well, I did like Travelin’ Soldier and the Goodbye Earl video, but other than that, I never cared for Nat’s voice.

    And Kev, I know it’s been over five years since Martina’s last number 1, but she has made some thought-provoking songs (Anyway, God’s Will). I understand some people probably won’t care for her high-note theatrics but her fans will. But you did say that radio play shouldn’t matter for anyone to be great.

    I do like Trisha’s music and some Pam Tillis too.

    But hey, call me delusional, call me sane, I’m just stating my views.

  12. I believe that this is a very powerful song. I don’t think it is meant to be a standing-your-ground song. I don’t think I can describe the point I want to make without sounding like a man of contractions, but to me, it is a great song.

  13. Well…where to begin…

    I think this song is from a panderer. One minute he’s putting a boot in someone’s ass and the next he’s praying for peace? I’m thinking that these songs directly corrolate with the times in which they were released. When he was all war crazy, the war was a popular idea nd a good way to cash in. Now that the war is no longer so popular, he’s praying for peace. Now, I know people will say that he also says that war is necessary, but I would argue that it’s only necessary when it is justified. Toby himself has said that the math doesn’t add up for the Iraq war. Yet, he has been a great supporter of Bush. He says, like many of us, that the Affgahnistan war is more justified, so why support a guy who has put so much focus on Iraq when the “bad guys” are really in Affghanistan? So, in summary, I think it’s about the money with him. Now, it would not be so popular of him to be so war crazy, so he’s “praying for peace.” My other issue with him is that he’s been so critical of the Dixie Chicks, but has toured with Willie Nelson, who has been very critical of Bush. In fact, Willie has sung an anti-war song at Toby’s own shows and there’s no problem. So, I can’t help but assume that gender has something to do with it. When a man speaks out, it’s alright, but a woman is simply a loud mouth who needs to be put in her place. Another example is Merle Haggard, who is also disgusted with Bush and the war, but Toby wouldn’t dream of saying bad about him. Strange. As you can tell, Toby gets me pretty passionate. And I even like quite a bit of his music, just not him, I think…and some of his swaggering tough guy songs.

  14. Come on Leeann, I know for a fact that Toby had no plans of putting the Angry American on his Unleashed album but one of the soldiers suggested that he record it because in a sense he’d be doing his service for the troops.

    Second, Toby is a registered Democrat, but he has voted for Clinton twice and Bush twice; he’s always said that he votes for the guy who seems to be the most competent for the job.

    Third, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts mentioned that he thought Love Me If You Can was the best song out of everything being played right now because it depicted Toby as he is even though he didn’t write it. Toby did say SOMETIMES not ALWAYS about war.

    Fourth, to their credit, Willie and Merle are expressing their views by their songwriting. I may not agree with what they say, but I can still respect their credibility.

    Final point, I’m beginning to think Maines had no convictions the whole time; I seriously think she pulled that stunt in London to gain more fans. When she learned that her comments alienated the fans here, she made a desperate half-baked apology to try to maintain her fans. Then, when the insurgents began terrorizing Iraq, Maines started backpeddling on her “apology” and ultimately took it back in 2006. In a world where everything is now “left and right” instead of “right and wrong”, I’ll gladly take Toby anyday.

  15. Natalie apologized for the tone of her comments, not the substance. She stuck by her criticism of the war from the beginning.

    Toby is the one who’s suddenly anti-war now that the popularity of it has gone south. If he’s telling the truth when he says that he was against Iraq from the start, he’s a coward for not saying it back then, and a hypocrite for bashing Natalie for speaking out. While he was publicly showing photo-shopped pictures of Natalie and Saddam Hussein at his concerts, he was also against invading Iraq? Pretty disingenuous on his part.

    I love his music, but I haven’t had much respect for him as a person for a long time. What pushed me over the edge wasn’t the Maines thing, but him saying that you couldn’t be a true patriot and not like his “Courtesy” song. In fact, not liking that song made you a “Commie heathen.” What a putz.

  16. “… I was digging it until he compared himself to Christ. That’s pushing it, buddy.”

    What??? Where are you finding THAT comparison?

    “And I believe that Jesus looks down here and sees us, and if you
    ask him he would say…..”

    This is a Craig Wiseman song, arguably the best songwriter in Nashville. Toby may be singing it and using it to front his image, but it’s a Craig Wiseman song. Neither Craig nor Toby is comparing themself to Christ in this song – good lord….

  17. Yeah, I actually listened to it completely for the first time today, just never been a fan of it and I too realized he compares himself (or at least the songwriter does) to Jesus which is how I found this review haha, looking to see if anyone else thought the same thing.

    And yes, he does to people who disagree. The first verse is about him (or whoever you want to say its about) and the second is about Jesus, how is that not saying they’re equal?

  18. Toby’s song makes a great point.
    he’s not equaling himself to Jesus, it says nothing about that i dont know where you guys got that from…
    Jesus was here on earth at one point, a man just like us, he died and rose again. everyone knows that.
    If jesus was a man just like us, we’re allowed to feel the same way, convited, called wrong or right, not knowing where we’re going, but knowing where we stand, hated or loved if you can.

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