Robert Earl Keen vs. Toby Keith


I've got a Robert Earl Keen interview in today's Inquirer in which the Texas songwriter, who plays Union Transfer with his band on Wednesday, talks, among other things, about "The Road Goes On And On," his song dis directed at Toby Keith.

The story is that Keen's trademark song "The Road Goes On Forever," which was released on his 1989 album West Textures and later covered by both Joe Ely and The Highwaymen, bears a strong resemblance to "Bullet In A Gun," Keith's 2010 hit which shares a similar cadence and is also a tale of a romantic couple of runaway bandits.

When Keith's song came out, Keen cell phone blew up with messages from friends wondering how he was going to respond. Averse to suing, he instead wrote "The Road Goes On And On," which is on his new album Ready For Confetti, in which he gets in a series of stinging body blows on his unnamed target.

"I don't care what you say / I never liked you anyway," the song begins, and gets better from there, with lines like "You're a regular jack in the box, with your  clown suit and your cowboy crocs / The original Liar's Paradox / You'll have to google that." (Here, I did it for you.) And: "Now you only rant and rave, piss and moan and misbehave / You lost your grip on that flag you wave, but you wave it right or wrong."

A Keen perdormance of "The Road Goes On Forever" frm Austin City Limits is below, and below that you'll find the video to "Bullets In A Gun" and a clip of Keen doing "The Road Goes On And On" from last September. Details of the Union Transfer show, with The Deep Dark Woods opening, are here.

Previously: Leonard Cohen streaming on NPR Follow In The Mix on Twitter here