Toby Keith says he chose the song "Don't Let the Old Man In" for his 2023 People's Choice Country Awards performance because he hopes it inspires anyone who's watching his cancer fight.

It certainly made the audience feel something.

Keith took the stage after a sincere, humorous tribute from Blake Shelton. The star accepted the Country Icon Award before singing — that came after a great one-liner.

"I bet you all never thought you’d see me in skinny jeans," Keith joked, referring to his thin frame on account of his health.

Related: 2023 People's Choice Country Awards Winners - Full List

While Keith sounded strong, he and his wife Tricia's tears told anyone watching that his battle is A) either much more difficult than fans know, B) far from over, or C) both.

attachment-Tricia Keith

Visibly shaking, Keith worked through a ballad about fighting time.

"Try to love on your wife / And stay close to your friends / Toast each sundown with wine / Don't let the old man in," he sang.

Watch the performance in its entirety in the clip below:

"Don't Let the Old Man In" was written by Keith for the 2018 Clint Eastwood movie The Mule.

Shelton lauded Keith after performing Keith's hit "Who's Your Daddy?" During his speech, he shared several entertaining anecdotes from their time on tour together. He recalled one awards show where Keith lost every award he was nominated for.

Related: Toby Keith Cancer Update

“I was so excited to get under his skin," Shelton said before explaining how he told Keith he hopes he's nominated against him real soon.

The veteran cracked that he had brought Shelton on tour to prove he didn't need an opening act.

2023 People's Choice Country Awards Red Carpet Pictures

The best dressed from the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards include several bold fashion choices and plenty of mid-summer crop tops. See pictures from the red carpet at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, taken before Thursday night's (Sept. 28) live broadcast.

The 2023 PCCA's air live on NBC from 8-10PM ET. Little Big Town will host while Toby Keith and Wynonna Judd will receive special honors.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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