Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

Exclusive: Adeem the Artist’s Toby Keith Rebuke

by Sydney Miller, Associate Editor

Photo by Shawn Poynter

“Wish You Would’ve Been a Cowboy,” a response to Toby Keith’s legacy in country music, is Adeem the Artist’s first single off their new record, Cast Iron Pansexual. Taking its name from Keith’s early hit “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” the song is, among other pointed critiques of the country superstar, a direct rebuke of Keith’s most jingoistic work, “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” the post-9/11 hit that stoked anti-Muslim rage.

 (Full disclosure: Adeem is a cherished member of the Country Queer staff, and the editor of our Buried Treasure column.)

The heady lyrics — “Your 20-minute song props up fascists / While you brag about kicking asses / With a boot in your mouth / Exploiting the American South” and “You helped turn my culture into a parody / Milking laborers for your prosperity” — are matched by the ruminative sentiments behind the song.

“I truly agonized over the ways I was being unfair to Toby when I wrote this song. I wish he’d had some of that same self-doubt when he bragged about raining terror on families in the Middle East,” Adeem said.

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The track is the only co-written song on the album — Knoxville poet Summer Awad helped write the second verse.

“It seemed fitting to get the input of a Palestinian American poet,” Adeem said. 

Keith has been in the news lately, having accepted a National Medal of the Arts from Donald Trump in a closed-door White House ceremony at the precise moment when Trump was being impeached, for a second time, for inciting insurrection against the United States.

Take a listen to “Wish You Would’ve Been a Cowboy”, available exclusively on Country Queer.


“Wish You Would’ve Been a Cowboy” will be released on BandCamp on January 22. Cast Iron Pansexual is due out on March 5, 2021 and is available for preorder now.