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Success can be a tremendous distraction, certainly for the successful and, in many cases, for those who would try to tell their story. For a number of reasons, Toby Keith is a prime example of both, but in very different ways. Recently and again named country music's top-earning country star by Forbes, the Oklahoma-based entertainer receives tremendous notoriety for presiding over a vast and growing enterprise of sold-out tours, chart-topping albums and singles, a rapidly expanding restaurant chain, a signature beverage and more.
At the same time, a small fraction of songs in his prolific catalog lead some to fervently politicize him despite a generally apolitical public stance. Whatever the causes, too often the descriptions applied to Toby Keith obscure the fundamental root of his success: Songwriting. Fortunately, time has a way of clearing those clouds, leaving hope that someday he will be known primarily and rightly as one of the finest popular songwriters of any era in any genre. That outcome is only possible, however, precisely because he has never lost that focus, never been distracted by the ups or the downs.