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Toby Keith’s reminder to be intentional in our days.

Last week, country music lost one of its most iconic stars. Over the course of several decades, Toby Keith’s perfectly deep, rich voice belted out 42 songs that became top-10 on the Billboard Country chart.

While many of those songs were about bars, or girls, or his love for his country, it is one of his most gentle songs that remains not only one of my favorite songs, but an anthem we should try to live out loud throughout our lives. And the backstory of the song is as inspiring as the song itself.

While playing in a charity golf tournament, Toby was matched with the legendary Clint Eastwood. Making their way through the course and chatting about various projects both were working on, Eastwood shared that he was about to begin directing and starring in a new movie called “The Mule.”  Toby Keith, in his late 50s at the time, laughed with amazement and asked how a man almost 90 years old could possibly remain as active and involved as Eastwood.

Eastwood thought for a moment, looked Toby in the eyes and responded in his famously tough-guy voice, “I don’t let the old man in.”

This encounter sparked Toby that same day to begin writing a song borrowing advice he just received on a golf course.

“Don’t let the old man in” is a song that reminds us that age is merely a number. It invites us to be more intentional in the manner we approach our days, regardless our age. It encourages us to live with vitality and to not succumb to the weariness or cynicism that can accompany aging.

With its gentle melody and reflective lyrics, the song sparks us to let go of fear, to be less complacent, and to live each day with zest.

Toby Keith’s last television performance was on September 28th at the People’s Choice Awards. Although few people knew it at the time, Toby was in profound pain, the stomach cancer ravaging his body as the singer courageously walked onto the stage. With his wife of four decades in the front row wiping tears, knowing that this was her husband’s way of saying goodbye, Toby sang this love song not only to his fans, but to life:

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.

And I knew all of my life,
That someday it would end.
Get up and go outside,
Don’t let the old man in.

Many moons I have lived,
My body’s weathered and worn.
Ask yourself how old would you be,
If you didn’t know the day you were born.

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

My friends, regardless our age, our circumstances, or the challenges we face, we have agency to  love passionately, to experience fully and live purposefully.

Undoubtedly life gets hard. Things happen. We get tired.

But today choose to joyfully walk onto the stage anyway. And don’t let the old man in.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

12 replies on “Don’t Let the Old Man In”

Great story,I to am 62, but I feel as young as ever, living life to the fullest, keep moving and never sit down, because the day you sit down is the the the old man comes looking for you, never let him catch you, trust in the Lord and live your life accordingly, love your family and friends, thank you Jesus for your many blessings,to God be the Glory!

John, thank you for today’s inspiring podcast about Toby Keith and his song.

And thanks for the inspiring words about your dad. Denny is a great example of someone who does not complain and, instead, embraces each day and, in so doing, inspires all of us. “Don’t let the old man in” could be his motto.

I live in Norman Oklahoma where Toby and his family live. He poured his heart into things he loved. He was good to his wife and has done many things in the community. He started the OK Kids Corral for kids and their families to stay while the kids received cancer treatment.
We should all follow his legacy by doing what we can for others. I have no doubt that he is in Heaven, as he was also a man of faith, and made this known especially in this last year.

Toby Keith was one of the great ones. A man of strong conviction and action. And a fun performer to watch! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and your reflection.

I have never heard that song, but will listen as soon as I finish here. And to have Clint Eastwood be your muse?! Awesome. Thanks for sharing

This is such a positive message everyone needs to hear. Whether starting school later in life or marriage after 50, don’t allow age to hinder your progress.

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