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Dear Ann,

Seeing Dwight Yoakam as one of the talking heads on Ken Burns’s Country Music documentary took me back to my wild and crazy days as a young lawyer in New York. (Yes, that was a combination of things that was possible.) By day, and most evenings, I’d sit in the library, walling myself in behind towers of the Federal Supplement. Then around 10 I’d find a fellow night owl to run out to the Lone Star Cafe or another honky tonkish spot.

An edgy young person, if only in my own mind, I favored rockabilly and reggae and acts like Buster Poindexter. It was a time when Los Lobos was playing small halls where you’d stand for the whole show, and when k.d. lang opened for Steve Earle and sang the last notes of “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray” lying on the floor in fully fringed cowgirl regalia. In terms of country, the twangier it was the better I liked it. No half measures.

My favorite outfit for a non-work night out: navy blue Frye cowboy boots, jeans, and a red mohair off-the-shoulder sweater from the Esprit 75% clearance. I think it’s safe to say that it brought the boys to the yard, or at least got them out to hear music they weren’t strictly interested in.

Which brings me to Dwight Yoakam. I liked him so much, without realizing that he represented a new generation of the Bakersfield Sound, or even knowing what the Bakersfield Sound really meant. I practically wore out my CD of Guitars, Cadillacs, etc., etc.

Later on, I would see Dwight Y on the TV in passing, and feel kind of embarrassed that he was still wearing his jeans leotard-tight, with a cropped jacket and a cowboy hat pulled so low you couldn’t see his water-blue eyes. If I gave up my red mohair, he should have to grow up, too. Get some dad jeans, Dwight!

After seeing him on Country Music, I fell in love all over again. How can you not love a man who chokes up recalling the lyric of a Merle Haggard song, or is still holding a grudge—real tight—against Columbia Records on behalf of Johnny Cash? He was a wonderful addition to the mix, holding his own in that group of great storytellers.  He’s just lovely. I’m fine with the jeans, OK? It’s called show biz.

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And so off I went on a YouTube tumble. Here’s a Dwight Yoakam playlist for your Saturday enjoyment. (I also note that a lot of his music is streaming on Amazon Prime.)

And here’s WFUV’s Rita Houston’s 2013 interview of Dwight Yoakam.

For the full effect of The Jeans, I recommend the official video to Yoakam’s cover of “Suspicious Minds.” It’s from the early ’90s, but it’s so ’80s it’ll make your hair perm up.



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  • What serendipity: after a Long workday a couple of days ago, I sat down in front of the TV & channel surfed. The episode of the Ken Burns documentary that included the Bakersfield sound & Dwight’s defense of Johnny was on one of the PBS stations we get in Philly. It was fabulous to see it again & again I too was mesmerized by DY. I love this edition of the newsletter – thank you!

  • No body has the leg action of Dwight no body!

    • Dwight Yoakam—oh yeah since before I was a teenager he was the love of my life! I’ve seen him in concert 9 times and always said if I get back stage don’t worry…he’ll bring me home! I’m from KY and anyone that knows me, can say I know every song/lyrics the gorgeous man has sang and played. I’m grew up in Rosine, KY the bluegrass capital of the world and Dwight really fits in that way!

    • Me too! Have loved Dwight since the 80s. Been to many concerts and hoping to see his new Vegas show.

  • Love this! I have a similar, maybe more unlikely crush of old – for Lyle Lovett. This immediately brought Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “I Feel Lucky” to mind. With this lyric:

    “Dwight Yoakum’s in the corner, trying to catch my eye. Lyle Lovett’s right beside me with his hand upon my thigh.”

  • Well that was a trip down memory lane. Not totally a good thing either but vivid anyhow. Thanks? And you are a wonderful writer, Kay; “so ’80s it’ll make your hair perm up” indeed. As a fellow Kay, I wish I could write so good.

  • I still listen to a least a couple of Dwight’s songs everyday (thank you, Alexa!). I’ve loved him (no, not that way; my grandpa was born in Pikeville KY too, so we’re probably related – don’t say it!) since I bought his first album on vinyl. Dwight always makes me happy!

  • I love Dwight Yoakam too, but what I really envy is your night with k. d. Lange.

    • I agree!

  • I have been listening to Spotify’s complete playlist from the Ken Burns Country Music series since it came out and I’m delighted to find others taking time to trip down memory lane to the sounds of classic country too! Dwight is such a wonderful presence and artist. Who can resist the swivel in your hips that hearing, “Hey, hey mama, can your daddy come home?” puts into them?

    • I love “I Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” but I just bought “Honky Tonk Man” after listening to it. (Hey, hey mama, can your daddy come home?) My hips were swiveling, and I was sitting down!

  • I was just watching Dwight Yoakam in Sling Blade… still blows my mind that that sweet shy guy could play such a monster. That’s acting.

    • This is fabulous!

  • Just a few days ago I was listening to NPR while driving and they were interviewing a man who wrote about the “Bakersfield Sound”. Never knew that was a thing! Thx for this post;)

  • He’s definitely a tall drink of water!

  • Imagine this: A chocolate Elvis cd. WTH(eck)? Eh? Got one! LOL!! A Christmas gift from a music student…..2001 or so…..rather on the stale side now.

    Get this: I knit, crochet, play classical and improv piano which includes all genres of music…..have 12 (twelve) feet of sheet music and a curmudgeon of crafting (antique/collectible) needles, hooks and accessories……..not much better than having an all nighter with any of the above. @@

    ((((( Happy Holidays to you all!

  • His cover of Suspicious Minds is excellent, but my favorite song on that album is “Claudette” – that little vocal swoop just kills me.

    The first time I saw him in concert was at an outside amphitheater in Texas in August. It was over 100, even at night, and he wore skin-tight leather pants. My friends and I decided there was no way he still had any hair left on his legs. (My outfit for the night? Black denim cutoffs, black tank, black suede fringed vest with conchos, and black super pointy cowboy boots with four aces inlaid into the leather and steel tips. It was the 90s and Cowpunk was it, baby.

  • Bakersfield, Fender Stratocaster, Roy Buchanan. “Sweet Dreams” is iconic, but…I’ll listen to anything that doomed angel played.

  • We were out of the country when Ken Burns Country Music documentary came out on PBS. I really want to see it. I am going to have to check out our PBS station and see if there is anyway I can get it. I don’t know why I am surprised at all the comments – and they are great and funny – but then again Dwight Yoakum is great – him and Buck – there is nothing like that Bakersfield sound.

    • There’s an app you can get that lets you watch it or you can buy it on AMAZON

    • Check PBS, but I believe I read somewhere they would do a rerun in Jan. I’ll be re-watching! Learned much about the people and their music and the influence of the world around them. Introduced me to Ketch Secor and his fabulous fiddling. And, K D Lang, one of my favorite songs!

  • Thank you! I love those covers by Dwight-my favorites. The Buck/Dwight harmonies are wonderful!

  • I have always felt Dwight is the BEST country singer we have ever had ! his voice is pure country and I have kept up with all the information about him , he stands up for what he believes and the big shots couldn’t tell him what to do and I so respect that !!! His career could have been so much bigger if he had been an ass kisser Yay for Dwight he isn’t !!!! it’s Dwight Yoakam all the way for me !!!!!

  • I saw him a couple of months ago at The Ryman. He’s still got it!

  • Awww, Dwight! We saw him a few years ago at the Ryman, tight jeans and all. And what we call the “ankle-y dance.” He still puts on an excellent show!

    Thanks for the playlist. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I’m like, “Dwight Yokum?” But then I remember the ‘Guitars and Cadillacs’ chorus, and now it’s in my head. XD

  • Ditto to it all, except the mohair sweater. Mine was blue and my boots were red.

  • My favorite Dwight song is a duo with Sheryl Crow on a remake of “Baby Don’t Go”, and oldie by Sonny & Cher. It’s also a killer song for a two-step.

    If you like that Bakersfield sound, you might try checking out Jon Pardi. Good stuff.

  • I have had the pleasure of meeting Dwight Yoakam at the Lexington Oprea House in March 2016. I had my picture taken with Dwight and I gave him a charm from my bracelet. I told him the story behind the tiny guitar when I was a kid my Grandma Ferneau would let me go through her button box. The tiny guitar was a prize my father got in a box of Cracker Jack’s back when you got real prizes. Dwight took it from me and said, ” Thank you, I really appreciate it.” Then he put it in his pocket of his tight jeans. Meeting a famous person who you really admire and finding out that person is friendly and really likes their fans , renews your faith in people.

  • We saw DY many times when he came to No. California. My husband was from Bakersfield and got me hooked. The night my 49 yr old DH had what would be a fatal stroke we were supposed to see Dwight in San Francisco. I still have the poster card of that concert and it brings back bittersweet memories but I’m grateful that my DH introduced me to Dwight and the Bakersfield sound

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