Dwight Yoakam: “Guitars, Cadillacs”
Modern-day country isn’t all bad. As with all popular, mainstream music filled with large doses of dreck, there are always bright lights on the scene, and for me, that means country songwriting with brains and a nod toward the all-time greats, with a good amount of twangy guitar or bluegrass thrown in for good measure. I don’t follow country music too closely, but I know what I like when I hear it.
Dwight Yoakam has always been one of those bright lights. Ever since his 1984 debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., he’s been a Nashville outsider with an affection for country greats like Buck Owens and Hank Williams, but with a twist of the roots-rock movement of the ’80s that included bands like the Blasters and Los Lobos. He never played by the standard country rules, but over time has earned the respect of the country establishment, as well as that of the alt-country movement that Yoakam himself helped to lay the groundwork for.
Yoakam likes to rock it up — particularly on covers such as “Little Sister” and “Honky Tonk Man” — nearly as often as he sings lovelorn ballads, but he’s often at his best when covering ground somewhere in between, as on the title track from the debut album, “Guitars, Cadillacs.”
Now it’s guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
It’s the only thing that keep me hangin’ on
“Guitars, Cadillacs” demonstrates one of the great things about Yoakam: with his twangy vocals and equally twangy guitar matching the misery of the lyrics, he has a way of making down-and-out almost seem like an appealing place to be.