Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Clint Eastwood, Who Inspired a Toby Keith Classic, Mourns Country Star’s Death

Clint Eastwood, Who Inspired a Toby Keith Classic, Mourns Country Star’s Death

Clint Eastwood and Toby Keith forged a special friendship over the years, one that even led to a beloved country song. Eastwood put out a short post on X (formerly Twitter) after hearing of Keith’s death. The country music legend died on Monday night from stomach cancer. He was 62.

“Extremely saddened by the passing of Toby Keith. Rest in peace my friend…” Eastwood wrote. A conversation between Toby Keith and Clint Eastwood led to the song, “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

Let’s let the country star talk a little more about the wisdom behind that song.

Toby Keith Turned Clint Eastwood Comment Into Hit Song

Toby Keith called Clint Eastwood on the phone as he was just about to celebrate his 88th birthday. The musician and songwriter wanted to know what the actor-producer had planned for that day. Eastwood simply said that he was going to keep on pushing along.

“It’s an interesting story, how this song came to be,” Keith explained. “Clint Eastwood, when asked by me, what he was gonna do on his birthday, he said he was gonna go shoot a movie. He was 88 years old, and I said, ‘What do you do to keep yourself going?’ He said, ‘I try to get up and be productive. And don’t let the old man in.’”

And there’s the genesis for Keith’s song “Don’t Let the Old Man In.” The song is all about being stubborn and not wanting to give up those set ways one might have in life. The lyrics do justice to an incredible songwriter. “Don’t let the old man in/I wanna leave this alone / Can’t leave it up to him / He’s knocking on my door.”

When Clint Eastwood heard Toby Keith’s song, he liked it so much, the “Man With No Name” took it and popped it into a soundtrack for 2018’s The Mule. In the movie, Eastwood plays a 90-year-old Korean War veteran. He switches from a day job as a horticulturist to work nights for a Mexican cartel drug mule.

Toby Keith Was Able to Perform One Last Time

Toby Keith performed this song at 2023’s People’s Choice Country Awards. That show happened to be Keith’s final televised performance. He accepted the Icon Award for his career and work as a singer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Later last year, he performed three shows in Las Vegas – all still while battling stomach cancer. But the song received a lot of attention. Keith decided to release it as part of his 100% Songwriter album.

Toby Keith amassed great success in his recording career. He had 20 No. 1 songs along with 22 more that reached the Top 10 list. Keith was a proud Oklahoman through and through. He worked in the oil patch for some time, getting together with some of his fellow workers to form a band.

Eventually, Keith turned his eyes toward country music and didn’t look back. He packed arenas all across the United States, singing with a sense of purpose and conviction. Not everyone was on board with his style, but people cannot dismiss his incredible work as a songwriter.

Clint Eastwood has been putting the finishing touches on his latest film project, Juror No. 2, yet his thoughts for a bit will be toward his late friend, Toby Keith.