STORY BEHIND THE SONG: I LOVE THIS BAR

Toby and writing partner Scotty had already called it a day when a surprise remark provided the park for a bawdy singalong hit.

Toby Keith and his writing buddy Scotty Emerick were cruising down the highway in Toby's tour bus, with every intention of writing a song. But the sounds of the road, combined with the late hour, made them drowsy. Soon both were half asleep, still holding their guitars.

Suddenly Scotty got a wake-up call. He heard Toby mumble - Mmm, hmm ... I love this bar - and he snapped to attention.

"I don't know where that came from, but Toby actually sang those words," Scotty remembers with a laugh. "It was about 3:30 in the morning, we were up late after a show, mumbling back and forth to each other."

Toby soon woke up and Scotty told him about the random words he'd been singing - and the creative juices started stirring. Toby and Scotty began trading quips about the colorful characters one might come across at a local bar.

"We thought it was cool to have one place, one bar, where you could find every Tom, Dick and Harry," says Scotty. "And it was fun, the way we laid out the song. Toby and I were laughing at each other as we were writing it."

Their laughter no doubt kept them pumped - and awake. Toby and Scotty finished "I Love This Bar" in about two hours.

Scotty recalls, "We just honed in on the characters and it all fell into place. And we also thought it was cool the way we rhymed all the characters. Toby and I covered pretty much everyone there was to cover!"

Toby and Scotty instinctively knew that they'd come up with a hit, adding to their already impressive list. The two had previously written Toby's No. 1 "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight," and his smash duet with Willie Nelson, "Beer for My Horses."

"We'd sing 'I Love This Bar' back and forth to each other, night after night, and it would just get better," declares Scotty. "The melody is so simple and you can sing along with it. It doesn't really wear itself out much, you know?"

The song certainly didn't wear out its welcome with fans, shooting to No. 1 earlier this year as radio played it constantly. "It does seem like the best songs I've been a part of have sort of fallen out of the sky," says Scotty. "It's hard to describe how that happens, but it does."

Toby's just glad that he and Scotty mined the territory before someone else did. "It's hard to believe that a song like that hadn't already been written," says the superstar. "Especially with all the great bar songs in country music. A lot of people have had that good, comfortable feeling about their favorite bar ... so this was a fun song to write."

--Marianne Horner

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