Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Playlist: Toby Keith

Living in Oklahoma, I get a lot of exposure to country superstar Toby Keith. Every time I drive into OKC, I pass a large water tower dedicated to the singer by his hometown of Moore. (Though, according to People magazine, he actually lives in my neck of the woods these days.)

If you're not familiar with his music, you may have seen a Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Las Vegas or somewhere else around the nation. Perhaps you've enjoyed their signature meatloaf.

His music is also perfect for the generating classroom conversation. Take the opening stanza to "American Ride":

Winters getting colder, Summer gettin warmer 
Tidal wave comin cross the Mexican border

I mean, wow. That's bold. For you Torts profs out there, a later stanza in the same song includes:

Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller. 
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars.

Now, Toby Keith does not shy away from controversial lyrics. His post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of The Red, While, and Blue (The Angry American)" is an unabashedly pro-war with the memorable lyrics:

`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way

But it's Toby Keith's 2011 song "Made in America" that I think is really of interest to immprofs. It's an ode to a man, born and raised in the United States, who only buys American-made goods that he can fix himself.

The idea of being "made" in America is interesting, particularly in light of the dominant DREAMer narrative of children who've been raised in the United States and know nowhere else as home. Are they not "made" in America? And why should the randomness of birth geography as opposed to years of nurturing make a difference? Put differently, what about the difference between being randomly "made" American and choosing to be American?

All-in-all, a great musical accompaniment to your discussion of citizenship, naturalization, or issues surrounding undocumented migrants.




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