June 25

A Tale of a Modern Cowboy, “Bullets in the Gun” by Toby Keith

A Tale of a Modern Cowboy, "Bullets in the Gun" by Toby Keith 1
Toby Keith’s “Bullets in the Gun” album cover |Photo Credits: genius.com

About the Song

Released on September 27, 2010, “Bullets in the Gun” was first recorded and performed by American singer-songwriter, actor and Oklahoman native Toby Keith. It is the second single from his 2010 album with the same title, Bullets in the Gun. Keith co-penned the song with American country music songwriter Rivers Rutherford. In addition, Keith also co-produced it with American music producers Mills Logan and Kenny Greenberg.

After its release, “Bullets in the Gun” debuted at the country music charts placing at no. 37. Also, it first entered the Billboard Hot 100 at no. 97. The song did not stop there. It then peaked at no. 12 and no. 83 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Billboard Hot 100, respectively in 2010. Moreover, this four-minute song managed to appear on the Billboard Country Songs 2011 year-end charts where it notched the 69th spot.

The song has been well received by fans all over the country upon its release. In fact, “Bullets in the Gun” received a “thumbs up” from Juli Thanki of Engine 145. Thanki praised Keith’s vocals saying,

“Keith’s vocals had nearly tangible bravado.”

On the other hand, Randy Lewis of Los Angeles Times described the song as “cinematic” and moreover, compared it to the classic hit of Marty Robbins, “El Paso.”

The Story Behind the Song

A Tale of a Modern Cowboy, "Bullets in the Gun" by Toby Keith 2
Toby Keith |Photo Credits: forbes.com

As many speculate about the story behind the song, Keith is ready to answer all the queries. On his website, Keith explains the story and inspiration of his hit. He revealed:

“When we started writing this idea, which I’d had for a while, we thought we would do five or six verses and just tag the last line of each verse with ‘bullets in the gun.’ But then we came up with that fantastic chorus, which is just so strong. Growing up in Oklahoma, playing shows in New Mexico and Texas and being around the real cowboy thing, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Wild West. We’ve modernized it here – the guy’s not riding a horse, he’s riding a motorcycle. I never thought it could be a single, but with the response we’ve gotten from radio, it looks like it’s going to be.”

Furthermore, in one of his interviews, Keith enthusiastically spilled the beans on his inspiration in creating the song. He said:

“Rivers Rutherford was on the road with me a year ago in Buffalo, and we were trying to figure out what are we going to do next. I said, ‘I haven’t written a Western themed song in fifteen years. I want to do an attitude song where a drifter, instead of riding a horse, is riding a motorcycle and make it Western theme but bring to modern day time. In the name of love, this drifter in the matter of days meets his soul mate, and she’s wilder and crazier and maybe even meaner than he is. And we wrote with that whole thing in mind. I love this song.”

A Tale of a Modern Cowboy, "Bullets in the Gun" by Toby Keith 3
Rivers Rutherford |Photo Credits: americansongwriters.com

On the other hand, the co-writer of the song, Rivers Rutherford, also had something to say:

“Toby is such a creative guy. He had that title, and it just sounded something like Willie (Nelson) would have cut. So we tried to write it like a Highwaymen record. We started writing, and it became this mini-movie, an Outlaw story.”

Watch below the music video of Toby Keith’s 2010 song “Bullets in the Gun”:

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Bullets in the Gun, Toby Keith

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