Up Close And Personal Series – 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Dwight Yoakam
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Dwight Yoakam – The air of anticipation, hollerin’ while the band sets up, and then the first twang of the guitar and the distinct voice that got that touch of hillbilly with a lot of smarts and smooth gravel. The songs are familiar, and the knee-swiveling has always been part and parcel of the man, your foot is tapping, and you catch your shoulders swaying to the beat.
Then he rips his guitar, looks to his bandmates, and the sound coalesces – and you are there, arms in the air, singing to the lyrics and dancing to the riffs. And when he sings, you are there with him, and you know you belong. Welcome to Dwight Yoakam’s live set.
Dwight Yoakam, country music superstar and rebel extraordinaire is the stuff of legends. From the meandering path of his Nashville debut via Los Angeles, he made the 1980s and the 1990s his era of honky-tonk meet intellectual meet rural meet rock starting from his 1986 debut album “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc…”
But what drives a man like Yoakam with his boundless creativity, effortless sound, and cheeky true-grit genius?
Dwight Yoakam Fact #1 – His Story on History
If there is one thing everybody agrees about Yoakam, it is the sheer depth of his musical knowledge going across genres and eras. This and the genius he has to put this knowledge into his music and giving it a new sound – the true Renaissance Man.
So it is not too surprising to know that Yoakam loved history so much that he even took it up in college when he attended Ohio State University before dropping out and moving to Los Angeles to jumpstart his music career which has already spanned 3 decades, 17 studio albums, 2 lives, and 9 compilation albums.
But what surprises most people is not only how much he knows but how crazy cool it is to hang out with the charismatic Yoakam for casual conversations that would become impromptu history lessons. From the bluegrass background of The Byrds to Buck Owens to The Beatles that will come out in casual conversations. Even the chairman and CEO of Yoakam’s music label Warner/Chapell Music swears by the man’s encyclopedic knowledge and depth of musical insight .
Dwight Yoakam Fact #2 – Collaborate and Listen! Live and Loud!
But more than that is the man’s charisma where a five-minute conversation can span hours. It is so captivating that Yoakam has been able to coax semi-retired singers and producers to collaborate with him.
He worked his magic on the semi-retired Buck Owens for a collaborative recording of the latter’s early hit “Streets of Bakersfield” in 1988. The song hit number 1 on the country charts, and the duo went on a very successful tour .
Yoakam’s natural charm worked wonders when he enticed legendary songwriter Roger Miller to work on a song with him resulting in the 1992 hit “It Only Hurts When I Cry”. This would be the final triumph for Miller who died shortly after of cancer. But the song lives on, and the music plays heavenly .
And Yoakam is still going strong with his renowned legendary live collaborations such as the CMA collaboration with Chris Stapleton in 2016 singing ” Seven Spanish Angels”, the fiery live rendition with Keith Urban and the Brothers Osborne sharing the stage singing Yoakam’s hit “Fast As You”, and the current LSD tour with Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.
Dwight Yoakam Fact #3 – Crazy Corvette
All artists, including musicians, have their own quirks, routines, and traditions before releasing their art to the public. There are some who play their music for a select cabal of friends and advisers, some have private screenings, while some have a drunk-out session to celebrate completing an installation.
Yoakam goes on his black Corvette, pumps up the volume, and plays his new music loud. All the songs he is thinking of putting in a new album. All the versions. All the tracks. Then he chooses.
Sometimes if you are lucky enough, you get an invite and listen to the tracks. You drive around, the music is blaring that you cannot even hear yourself think. Then there is Yoakam singing over the tracks. Because the loudest voice in that Corvette would be his and in choosing the songs, Yoakam’s voice is the only one that matters.
Dwight Yoakam Fact #4 – Mad Hats and Sage Advice
Believe it or not, Yoakam has been wearing the same Stetson hat that he bought for $50 in 1979 to this day. Yes, that ubiquitous, ever-present low-tilted hat. And you can say a lot about the man that has not lost his hat.
But Yoakam has always had a good head on his shoulders. No messy scandals or divorce (he has never been married but had his share of meaningful relationships), or tabloid fodder. Just pure genius.
In April 1986 during a party for the release of his debut album, Yoakam got a sagacious piece of advice from a Warner executive, Lenny Waronker. “If anybody ever tells you to do something that goes against your instincts, don’t do it.”
That advice stuck and Yoakam remained faithful to the edgy and fearless instinct that continues to drive his music.
Dwight Yoakam Fact #5 – The Mostest and the Latest
We can talk about Yoakam in superlatives, and we all know the man deserves it. In 2012, he marked his 25th musical appearance in the Tonight Show, breaking his own record set in 2008 for the most number of musical appearances in the popular late-night show.
Other figures with the mostest: playing the guitar at 6 years of age and composing his first song at 8. It might not be Mozart, but it’s near enough. Then there are the 25 million albums he sold, 9 platinum or multi-platinum, and 12 glittering golds ones.
And yes, Yoakam is still releasing new music. His latest album was the 2016 critical hit “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…” This May, he released two songs he had written, “Pretty Horses” and “Then Here Came Monday” with which he shares writing credit with Chris Stapleton.
Speaking of the critically-acclaimed album, Yoakam describes it as “the hybrid expression of a journey — and it’s the American journey. “
And that describes his whole music. Yoakam’s journey is the American journey. And come this October, that journey will be at the Las Cruces Music Festival.
 Documentary. 3 Pears.
 Encyclopedia.com. Yoakam, Dwight.
 Nascountrydaily.com. Dwight Yoakam: The Mad Hatter, Jim Casey, April 2015
 DwightYoakam.com. Bio.