Toby Keith Sings Beautifully Poignant “Don’t Let The Old Man In” At The 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards.

toby keith at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards

With the passing of country music great Toby Keith, fans are remembering one of his final and most poignant performances.

Toby was well-known for his gift of songwriting. It was a gift that earned him dozens of awards, including the CMA Poet’s Award. It also gave him a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His hit lyrics often came to him during random conversations, and he’d lock himself away to get his words on paper. Toby wrote some of his most iconic singles in only a matter of minutes.

In 2018, Clint Eastwood inspired Toby to write the song Don’t Let the Old Man In. The two friends were enjoying a round of golf one day, and Clint shared that he would be directing and starring in The Mule. Toby asked the now 93-year-old how he managed to stay active in Hollywood despite his aging body. He answered, “I just get up every morning and go out. And I don’t let the old man in.”

The “old man,” of course, was a metaphor for death.

Toby Keith penned the song and gave it to Clint Eastwood, who used it in his movie. However, the moving ballad didn’t find a proper place in the limelight until Toby announced his battle with stomach cancer years later.

During the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards, Toby, visibly frail from progressing cancer and ongoing treatments, took the stage with his guitar and gave the lyrics new meaning with an emotional performance.

Fans Mourn the Late Country Star

With a cowboy hat pulled low over his face, Toby’s eyes glistened with tears as he sang the lyrics, “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.”

“His goodbye song. Fly high Toby!!” a fan wrote on X.

“So beautiful,” another shared. “The words speak from his soul.”

Toby Keith singing "Don't Let the Old Man In."
X (Twitter)

The performance followed a two-year break from his career that he took to focus on his health and family. During that time, the singer found the peace and connection he’d hoped for.

Famed Country Singer Toby Keith Experienced ‘a Peace That Surpasses All Understanding’

In a recent interview with News 9 in his native Oklahoma, Toby Keith admitted that he relied on “faith” to get him through his hard days, and before his passing, he had “experienced a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Toby Keith interview.

“I finally got to a point in the spring … where I was comfortable with whatever happened,” he said. “I got my brain wrapped around it. And I was in a good spot, either way. People without faith don’t have that.”

Toby Keith died on Monday, Feb. 5, surrounded by his family. He was 62.

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