Some Songs Are Not What You Think
Toby Keith, "I Love This Bar," 2003
This song became a lot more interesting to me once I realized that "this bar" is not a bar at all but actually Country Music Itself, because no real bar could hold all the types he talks about. And he's got that song about "The Critic" on there to throw us off from speculation about deeper meanings in his songs, alienating the only people who tease this stuff out...so it's gotta be a metaphor! But what's the meta for?
Because, I think, Toby Keith really does love Country Music Itself. He likes the way lots of different types of music all exist together under one really big umbrella, yuppies and bikers and thirsty hitchhikers, veterans with battle scars and hookers and lookers and boozers and losers all up in it existing more or less in harmony, even if that harmony is kinda dissonant and unharmonious most of the time. (For example, he doesn't say "we got outspoken hotties from Texas" or even "traitors to the sacred American flag," but I do think he'd be happier with no Dixie Chicks up in the mix, because then no one would ever call him out on his thin-skinned shit.) He likes his Ford truck, he likes his girlfriend, but what he really likes is his own clever idea about all of the music he loves being able to be contained in one ramshackle quonset hut, especially because he knows that everyone's going to assume that his drinking song has no further significance to it and he's snookered them all again.
Come as you are, it's his kind of place.