(Editors Note: Please welcome our newest writer, Ryan Scott! This is his first post on the site.)
Toby Keith has always been just kind of there for me. He has some great songs but for every great song, there’s a “Red Solo Cup.” His newest single, “35 MPH Town,” has a different sentiment than “Drunk Americans” which I found to be severely underwhelming and boring much like the rest of his songs that are about drinking. “35 MPH Town” is much more well-crafted lyrically, emotionally and vocally. The production and vocals are spot on in this song. It makes me wonder why Toby Keith continues to put out songs that are sub-par when a song like this one, although not perfect, is released and has some sentimental value in its lyrics including:
The “yes mam’s” gone and the “please’s” too,
It’s out the door with the “thank you” in the evening
You don’t see a front yard football game
The neighbor kids have done away with the shirts and skins
No one hits the front porch lights to get their kids to come inside
Cause the streets ain’t safe for a bike to ride down
Since they planted a prowler in this 35 mile an hour town
No they’re going nowhere fast tonight, no matter how fast they drive this 35 mile an hour town
“35 MPH Town” is a song about how times have changed. Keith incorporates many of the things he has seen change within the past decades including the absence of Christianity, manners, and children playing outside because it’s unsafe. This song may irk some listeners as there’s debate as to whether our society has changed, the absence of the above are evident and whether those absences are affecting how we grow up and teach future generations.
Toby Keith achieves something great with this song bringing him out of the drinking songs into something more sentimental. There’s a lot of factors that contribute to radio airplay. Keith is 53 years old and country radio has been focusing their energy on playing younger, emerging, country artists rather than the veterans with a few exceptions. I believe this song has a chance at a top 20 peak but I’m not sure what to expect considering the state country radio is in. The lyrics, vocals, and production are spot on. There’s also going to be some country radio listeners that may be against this song due to its lyrics if they listen to the lyrics closely. I don’t find this song offensive at all and find it to be somewhat true in today’s society. It’s changed a lot from decades ago and “35 MPH Town” does a great job of illustrating that with its imagery and emotion.