Sandra's Country Music Presents

Toby Keith's
"Christmas to Christmas"

(Polygram, 1995)

by Sandra L. Toney

Toby Keith. Although the name isn't really one to be taken seriously, anyone who has heard Toby's soothing, country voice knows this man is one serious music maker. His first Christmas album, "Christmas to Christmas," is just the right blend of toe-tappin' tunes and solemn singles.

Toby Keith as songwriter emerges on this release as well. Of the twelve hits on this album, Keith wrote or co-wrote four of them. His sole creation, "Blame It On the Mistletoe," is a beautiful ballad about two lonely strangers meeting by chance at Christmas time and how magic takes over as Keith croons the chorus, "Blame it on the mistletoe/'Cause what happened here nobody knows/How could something simple as a kiss/Change my holiday like this/And we held each other all night long/And we fell asleep to a Christmas song/Playin' on the radio/Blame it on the mistletoe . . ."

Ron Reynolds joins songwriter Keith on "Santa's Gonna Take It All Back," an upbeat, rockin' song that tells the story of a woman wanting so many things for Christmas that love takes a backseat. That's when Toby offers his warning, "If you ain't a good girl by Christmas/He said he's gonna take it all back/If you ain't got it right come Christmas night/He's gonna put it back in the sack/You've got a lot of things on your list/And you better straighten up your act/Cause if you ain't a good girl by Christmas/Santa's gonna take it all back." This is one fun song! Let's just hope it never really happens.

Speaking of fun, the Keith-penned "Hot Rod Sleigh" offers more than enough as well as "All I Want for Christmas" and "Christmas Rock," the story of a man's other half going a little overboard for Christmas "She don't want no pots and pan/Just something shinin' on her hand/With an emerald or a diamond on it/I had a budget but she's gone and blown it/Down to the jewelry store, here I go/Hear the clerk say Ho! Ho! Ho!/She wants a Christmas rock/But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll . . ." I think we're supposed to feel sorry for the hard workin' man. Naaaaa.

Keith chose his Christmas album to tackle a social issue that many people don't like to think about, especially during the holidays as we're all snuggled in our beds -- homelessness. Songwriter Ron Reynolds brings this sad plight (that many people face) to light in his song, "Santa, I'm right here." Keith uses it as his opening on the album and sings it so touchingly, you'd believe it has actually happened to him and his family.

The song begins with a man walking down a busy street during the holidays and finding a note written in a child's hand. The note is to Santa Claus. This is what it says, "Oh, Santa, if you can't find me, we're livin' out here on the street/But I'll be watchin' for you, you're not gonna forget me, are you/Daddy says he knows you'll try/But we might be too hard to find this year/Oh, Santa, I'm right here."

No one can listen to that song and ignore the fact that homelessness exists in every city and every town. Kudos to Toby Keith for reminding us that there are others out there to think about besides ourselves. Not just at Christmas, but all year 'round -- from "Christmas to Christmas."

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