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Toby Keith's song 'Don't Let the Old Man In' to be featured in Clint Eastwood's new movie 'The Mule'

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Toby Keith's new song "Don't Let the Old Man In" will be released Friday as a single and featured in Clint Eastwood's upcoming movie "The Mule." [Cover art provided]

Toby Keith's new song "Don't Let the Old Man In" will be released Friday as a single and featured in Clint Eastwood's upcoming movie "The Mule." [Cover art provided]

Oklahoma singer-songwriter Toby Keith can find songwriting inspiration anywhere — even while riding in a golf cart with a Hollywood icon.

The Norman resident earlier this year penned a song inspired by legendary actor and filmmaker Clint Eastwood — and it will be featured in Eastwood's eagerly anticipated new film.

Keith will release as a single Friday — "Don't Let the Old Man In" — which also will be featured during the end scene and closing credits of Eastwood's upcoming drama "The Mule."

The connection between the two performers was made in May when Keith participated in Eastwood's annual golf tournament in Carmel, California, and the two shared a cart.

"I was invited to be his partner for three days ... and riding with him was amazing," Keith told The Oklahoman in a recent interview at his Toby Keith Foundation's OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma City.

When Keith asked Eastwood what he had planned for his May 31 birthday just days away, the four-time Oscar winner said he was leaving the next day to spend three months filming a new movie. Eastwood, 88, shared the storyline with Keith.

"I said, 'What keeps you going?' and he said, 'I get up every day and don't let the old man in.' So, I came home, wrote a song for him called 'Don't Let the Old Man In' and sent it to him. And he put it in his movie," Keith said. "He absolutely loves it. It is a very powerful song, and I — probably if it wasn't for the movie — really wouldn't have anywhere to go with it. ... It's a very emotional, dramatic piece of music and as good as I've ever done in my life."

Based on the real-life story of World War II veteran Leo Sharp, "The Mule" follows an octogenarian who becomes a drug courier, or "mule," for a Mexican cartel. It is the prolific filmmaker's second release this year as a producer and director, after "The 15:17 to Paris," another fact-based film that played in theaters in February.

A late and highly anticipated addition to this year's cinematic awards season,"The Mule" is the first film for Eastwood to both star in and direct since 2009's acclaimed "Gran Torino." It's his first acting role since his supporting turn in 2012's "Trouble with the Curve," so there is speculation it might be the final performance of his almost five-decade acting career.

A Warner Bros. release co-starring Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena and Dianne Wiest, "The Mule" is due in theaters Dec. 14.

"I've met lots of famous people. I've met so many presidents and did a movie with Burt Reynolds. ... And as big as they all are, it was different with him. He was so iconic to me," Keith said of spending time with Eastwood.

"He treated me like his son, he treated me great, and I thought, 'Man, I should take this idea he gave me and write it ... and send it to him and say 'Hey, you inspired me to write a song so I wanted to tell you thank you for being such a good guy.' And he put it in his movie — and it fits."

Written solely by Keith, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, "Don't Let the Old Man In" is billed as "a wearily resolute rebuke to Father Time."

Recorded at Nashville's Ocean Way Studio, the song will be available at all digital retailers Friday.

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