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Toby Keith And American Nationalism Film Studies Essay

Toby Keith, an American country music singer, has played a large role in American nationalism through nationalistic ideals that can be seen and heard in his music. Especially, his tune, "Thanks to the Red, White, and Blue" peaked at number one in 2002 within the 4th of July weekend, the year after its debut. This illustrates Benedict Anderson's point of nationalism being defined as an imagined region and inventing a region where one does not exist (Anderson). The audience that song appealed to can be an dreamed audience because they do not, and will not ever know each other; however, they are simply an invented region under the affects of this tune. The fact that the tune debuted at number one within the 4th of July weekend is just another illustration of dreamed community and comradeship that Anderson describes as the occurrence of nationalism.

Case Study

Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" was written in 2001 honoring his patriotic dad and the occasions that happened on Sept 11th 2001. At first, Keith performed the track exclusively for soldiers at live shows. Because of the song's recognition among audiences, it debuted for the general public on his next album in 2002. Despite being written for nationalistic purposes, this music also displays an array of nationalistic elements unique to America.

Country music has been viewed as representative of standard America since Aaron Copland, the first composer to ever achieve a method that represented and appealed to America, started out publishing "cowboy melodies" he found in Music for Radio (1937) and continuing to use in the ballets Billy a child (1938) and Rodeo (1942) (New Grove Dictionary of Music Online). It's the eye-sight of "the Western world" and folk music influences that provide country music an American feel. In "Thanks to the Red, White, and Blue", the music is simple. Keith sings, at first, followed only by an acoustic guitar. He sounds somber and the meaning is clear that he's performing about his father and the attacks on September 11th. He is then joined by a great many other equipment such as a power guitar, drums, and the piano through the chorus. His singing also creates in intensity and he now appears prideful and excited. Following the chorus, it goes back to just him singing and the main one guitar before end of the songs. With a largely acoustic song, it certainly allows the lyrics to glimmer and the audience to have the ability to sing along. That alone is nationalistic since it permits everyone to get involved. The country influence is seen in the twang of his voice and the simple guitar chords he takes on.

The song opens with the collection: "American women and American folks will always operate and salute. " The songs message or calls out specifically to Us citizens in the 1st lines and brings focus on our nation's flag. Through the entire song, Keith personal references historically significant elements such as "THE GOVERNMENT", "the Statue of Liberty", and also referring to America as the "eagle" which is the national parrot of America.

The most controversial area of the song is where the attacks from Sept 11th are referenced.

"Oh, justice will be offered and the battle will trend: This big dog will deal with when you rattle his cage. An' you'll be sorry that you messed with the U. S. of an. 'Cos we'll put a shoe in your ass, it's the American way. "

After September 11th, Us citizens were rallied resistant to the terrorism that took place and everyone experienced a profound sense of take great pride in. With that pride, came up the desire to take action against terrorism which is just what Keith says in his lyrics. You can just picture people listening to this verse and screaming "Yeah!"

One of the important musical aspects of the song is the fact it begins slow tempo and accumulates in acceleration and intensity as it gets to the chorus and the most patriotic part of the song. The buildup creates a anxiety that is released once the chorus comes, the most powerful part of the music. He also emphasizes certain content such as, "Red, White, and Blue", "the fourth of July", and "Mother freedom". The emphasis reinforces the theme of the melody because all the emphasized words are patriotic.

Keith is really subtle throughout the complete song rather than comes out and says anything. This is is implied which explains why it is so significant to People in the usa. Every American whether they have anything in keeping, all can understand this is of this songs.

The timing of the songs is another reason it has a solid nationalistic influence. It is a tune that was a part of another bigger movements after September 11th. After Sept 11th the American country noticed a resurgence of American pride. There was a huge hop in enlistment in to the Military, the American flag could be seen everywhere, and people like Toby Keith were expressing their emotions about any of it through music. Anderson areas, "Ultimately, it is this fraternity that means it is possible, for so many thousands of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to expire for such limited imaginings". This statement sheds light on why people are influenced to struggle for America or write tracks about America after such tragedy. It is the camaraderie people feel when something bad happens with their country. The ultimate brand in Keith's song says "thanks to my Red, White, and Blue" and the fact that he says "my" instills a sense of delight in the audience, like this is my country. This sense of pleasure in one's country that folks experienced was nationalism.


As illustrated in the event study, people can create a nationwide community through music. It doesn't necessarily have to be part of any bigger movements; it just has to instill nationalistic feeling or nationalistic invoking thoughts in the audience. In this particular case it was both. The songs created thoughts of America fighting back, jointly, against terrorism and raised America's history. Ancient elements are also an important part of nationalistic music. Whether it be through musical impact like, country style music, or lyrics that call attention to historical events; history is exactly what bonds a community. Record is just what a nation has in keeping and then an "imaginary country" is established. This song specifically is even ancient as a result of occurrences it is written about. The era that was around when it was written will remember that day when they hear this song. They'll always believe that sense of take great pride in when Keith mentions "the eagle" traveling and "the Statue of Liberty shaking her fist". The reason nationalism is so difficult to describe is perfect for that very reason. It is based on thoughts, and abstract things such as sense of community, take great pride in, and brotherhood. Music is a way nationalism can be expressed in a wide-spread sense.

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