In February of 1993, Toby Keith released “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” his debut single from his self-titled debut album.
The beloved country track was written solely by Keith and went on to become the most-played country song of the 1990’s with more than 3 million spins. It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs chart and became a minor crossover hit, reaching No. 93 on the US Hot 100.
The inspiration for “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” came to Keith in the bathroom of a hotel in Dodge City, Kansas.
“A guy said to another guy, ‘In all honesty, you should’ve been a cowboy,’ when a girl didn’t dance with him in his hunting clothes. And I thought, ‘Man, that sounds like a song idea,’ and it was all over me,” Keith once recalled to The Oklahoman.
“I went back and we were all two hunters to a room, and my roommate was Freddie Cortez. He’s passed away now, but he used to own Chastain’s and a bunch of country bars in town. Freddie went to sleep, and I didn’t want to wake him ‘cause he was hateful when you’d wake him up. I went in the bathroom, shut the door, wrote it down and put it in my bag and went hunting the next day. Came home, revisited it, and said ‘I’m gonna record this song.’”
The Oklahoma native added, “It’s the foundation for me of everything.”
“Should’ve Been a Cowboy” was also Keith’s first music video. It was filmed in New Mexico and premiered on CMT in March 1993. A second version of the video was released featuring clips of the Dallas Cowboys.
Click above to re-live Toby Keith‘s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.”