Every once in a while a record comes along that reminds you why you love an artist or genre. It revives the feeling that started you on a musical path, as a listener and even as a player. Dwight Yoakam's new album, "Dwight Sings Buck", is one of those records for me.
I grew up as a rock kid, but even then I liked the Eagles, Linda Rondstadt and Jackson Browne -- that Cali-Country rock thing. I liked Southern Rock like the Allmans and Lynyrd Skynyrd. By the time I was in my early 20's, even rootsier American music caught my attention. A friend turned me on to Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. Hippie Country.
I've been a Dwight Yoakam fan since day one. In 1988, right after I bought my first CD player (a Denon for $750 that I still have and still works great), one of the very first CDs I bought was "Hillbilly Deluxe". I have performed one of the songs from that LP, "Johnson's Love" for years. I have many of Dwight's CDs: "This Time"; "Guitars and Cadillacs"; "Gone", as well as many CDs that he guests on. "Partners" by Flaco Jimenez stands out. On it, Dwight's version of "Carmelita" may be my favorite rendition of the Warren Zevon classic. Speaking of Zevon, his bittersweet final LP, "The Wind", features some great backup singing by Dwight.
But of all the great work he's done, and Dwight Yoakam's contribution to American Music is significant,"Dwight Sings Buck" may be his best ever. Obviously Dwight owes his career to Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound. But to his credit, he did not make clones or direct soundalikes of Buck's best. Instead, he lovingly crafted each song to have it's own fresh personality. The tracks have one boot in Owens, and one in Yoakam.
Here's a message I sent to Dwight:
We all love Buck, and I really appreciate how you did fresh interpretations of his classics. I have been playing it non-stop in my car--love the lean production and so many great tunes. "Corner of Love" and "Under Your Spell Again" are awesome. But I think the last five songs are my favorites of all. What a groovy new version on "Close Up The Honky Tonks" -- love the latin percussion and the B-3 solo. "Tender Loving Care" is priceless, with the weeping steel, low-twang Tele and the '60's Nashville reverb. But man, you saved the best for last. Of the many versions of "Together Again" that have ever been made, I think you topped them all (except the original, of course). The twinkly piano alone is worth the price of admission. Floyd would be proud.
Heck, Buck must be proud!