Bullets In The Gun

Album: Bullets In The Gun (2010)
Charted: 84
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Songfacts®:

  • This is the second single and title track from American country music singer Toby Keith's fourteenth studio album. Keith penned the song with Nashville songwriter Rivers Rutherford.
  • Keith told the story of the song in a cut by cut on his website. He explained: "When we started writing this idea, which I'd had for a while, we thought we would do five or six verses and just tag the last line of each verse with 'bullets in the gun.' But then we came up with that fantastic chorus, which is just so strong. Growing up in Oklahoma, playing shows in New Mexico and Texas and being around the real cowboy thing, I've always been a huge fan of the Wild West. We've modernized it here – the guy's not riding a horse, he's riding a motorcycle. He's lost and lonely and riding around trying to find his place in the world. And when he finds it, she's a renegade just like him. He's got that cold place in his soul, that missing piece. And she's holding it. They're soul mates. He really doesn't commit the robbery, but he loves her so much he lets her do it. She's tired of being treated bad, so that's her jailbreak. She gets out. The cards are on the table and the bullets in the gun is Wild Bill Hickok. There's no more gambling, no more bluffing; it's do or die and we're settling it. I never thought it could be a single, but with the response we've gotten from radio, it looks like it's going to be."
  • Keith discussed the original inspiration for this song with The Boot: "Rivers Rutherford was on the road with me a year ago in Buffalo, and we were trying to figure out what are we going to do next. I said, 'I haven't written a Western themed song in fifteen years; I want to do an attitude song where a drifter, instead of riding a horse, is riding a motorcycle and make it Western theme but bring to modern day time. In the name of love, this drifter in the matter of days meets his soul mate, and she's wilder and crazier and maybe even meaner than he is. And you tell what goes on. It happens fast. He's probably been drifting all over the world on his motorcycle for years and probably encounters all kinds of different relationships, but this one was different. He met his soul mate.' And Rivers said, 'OK. Where are we going to go with this song?' I said, 'Well, it's that moment where Thelma & Louise at the end of the movie go forward, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jump, and things like that. One of those moments where cards are on the table, bluff's over, how much do you love me, bullets are in the gun, can we pull the trigger or are we going to get shot? Are we going to shoot or are we going to give ourselves up? How far are we going to go?' And we wrote with that whole thing in mind. I love this song."
  • Rutherford shared his side of the story in a Rolling Stone interview: "Toby is such a creative guy. He had that title, and it just sounded something like Willie (Nelson) would have cut. So we tried to write it like a Highwaymen record. We started writing, and it became this mini-movie, an Outlaw story.

    I went to church one morning, and the preacher shook my hand and said, 'Rivers, you had anything on the radio lately?' And I said, 'Yeah, I have a song out with Toby Keith out right now called 'Bullets in the Gun.'' So the preacher asks me what it's about, and I kinda hesitated and said, 'Well, it's about an Outlaw biker who goes to a strip joint, hooks up with a stripper, robs the place, goes to Mexico, has sex and is killed by the federales.' So he looked at me and said, 'Well, uh… don't forget to tithe, brother!'"

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