Toby Keith Featured On ‘HIXTAPE Vol: 3’ With Joe Diffie’s “Ships That Don’t Come In” In What Turned Out To Be His Final Recording

Hixtape Toby Keith
Big Loud Records

You couldn’t have scripted this one any better.

Of course we all know that we lost the legendary Toby Keith back on February 5 after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. The Big Dog Daddy had recently returned to the stage, performing three sold-out concerts in Las Vegas at the end of 2023 in what turned out to be his final performances.

But what we didn’t know is that he had actually been in the studio one final time.

Back in November, HARDY announced the next installment of his popular HIXTAPE series – and HIXTAPE Vol. 3: Difftape was a tribute to another ’90s country legend, Joe Diffie, who passed away on March 29, 2020.

What we didn’t know until this week though, was that before he passed away, Toby Keith had actually recorded a song for that project too.

In what turned out to be a poetic twist that made for a storybook ending to a legendary career, Toby’s final recording was a duet with Luke Combs of “Ships That Don’t Come In,” Joe Diffie’s poignant 1992 single from his album Regular Joe that reflects on navigating and appreciating life through the struggles:

And just when I’d hit bottomThat old man raised his glassAnd said at least we’ve had our chancesThere’s those who never have

So here’s to all the soldiersWho have ever died in vainThe insane locked up in themselvesThe homeless down on MainTo those who stand on empty shoresAnd spit against the windAnd those who wait foreverFor ships that don’t come in”

Of course nobody knew it at the time, but the song would end up being Toby’s final recording before he passed away, and now the song serves not only as a tribute to Diffie (whose vocals are also on the song) but to another ’90s country legend too.

Sometimes it’s just incredible how things work out like they do. And luckily for us, we get to hear Toby’s voice one final time.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock