Dwight Yoakam – Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (1986): On Second Thought

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Dwight Yoakam, even if you typically don’t like this kind of music, is country-mile cool.

Here’s why:

BECAUSE, in the late 1980s, Yoakam’s chosen field was speed-bumped with crap country record after crap country record — until Dwight’s debut CD, a pointy-toed triumph called Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. He returned the music to its best mid-century influences, Buck Owens and the Bakersfield honky tonks. This was so new sounding then that the so-called “alternative rock” stations on college campuses played it.

BECAUSE, the more you know about Dwight, the more that makes sense: He used to appear at the same LA clubs as X, the Dead Kennedys, the Butthole Surfers, Los Lobos and the Blasters. His fans, a hybrid of theirs, were called Cowpunks.

BECAUSE he was just getting started: Dwight’s version of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” and this never happens, is better than the original. It was a one off, for some movie a while back. Still sounds like heavy freight rumbling through your speakers.

BECAUSE, despite being as bald as the moon under that cap, Dwight is the best country-singing actor (two words: Jerry Reed), and I mean … ever. Well, except Kris Kristofferson.

BECAUSE he not only dated Sharon Stone (should be enough, right?), but also got his best song out of her leaving him, “Fast As You.” He turns heartache into a room you don’t mind checking into for a while, if only for the dark humor.

BECAUSE his version of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a country hit — then after being featured in a GAP commercial, became a minor pop hit, too. Crazy, indeed.

BECAUSE, in “Slingblade,” Dwight’s villian asks Billy Bob Thornton’s character: “What are you doing with that blade there, Karl?” Old Karl answers: “I aim to kill you with it, mmm hmm.”

Then. He. Does.

BECAUSE somebody, somewhere FINALLY put a song on a country album called “Fair to Midland,” as heard on his 2003 release Population: Me. Guess who?

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