Toby Keith’s “35 MPH Town” will be labeled as “realistic” by fans and “cynical” by those who don’t care for it. Music is in the eye of the beholder, but one thing is certain: it’s a story that will stir up opinions.

Keith’s first single from an upcoming album tells of a small town gone bad. “Mama locked the door last night for the first time in all of her years / I said mama you gotta be kidding me, she said things ain’t like they used to be round here,” he sings to begin the guitar-heavy ballad.

“You just wouldn’t believe it, kids growing up without Jesus, good thing your daddy ain’t here to see this now / They stay higher than the water tower in this 35 MPH Town.”

Vocally, Keith reminds country fans he’s still a power to be reckoned with. During the bridge he gets a chance to really open up, but it’s the storytelling that continues to be his calling card. He penned the track with Bobby Pinson, and there’s no lack of sincerity as he sings:

Oh we can’t blame the babies for growing up lazy / And crazy it ain’t them that let them down / If they ain’t stealing, they’re suing, why work when we’ll give it to ‘em / It’s right there in the bible that we don’t put out / Spare the rod and you’ll sour a 35 MPH town.”

Those are harsh words, but many will nod in agreement as they rock in place during his live shows. “Hope on the Rocks” was Keith’s last ballad to hit radio, and the two songs are similar in theme. They come to different conclusions, however, with this song being as much of a statement on our culture as any of his most recent releases to radio.

Why Fans Will Love It: They'll love it if they agree with Keith's assessment of where our culture is headed.

Key Lyrics: "Spare the rod and you’ll sour a 35 MPH town."

Did You Know?: Keith's summer tour stops will include both Country Jam Colorado and the Taste of Country Music Festival in Hunter, N.Y.

Listen to Toby Keith’s “35 MPH Town”

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