The dial of variety continues to spin, as we pivot back to the world of country music today for the debut album from Dwight Yoakam, “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.”. Yoakam was a hybrid, and what I see and hear here is a new artist with an older, classic sound. Not surprisingly, I loved this album as he tapped into the roots of country music. This record is rated as the #8 country album of all time on tasteofcountry.com.
Up until now, I have most closely associated Yoakam for his role as an absolutely wretched human being in the movie “Sling Blade”, playing an abusive and ignorant live-in boyfriend. Thankfully, that is not who we have singing vintage country music to us here, although I do highly recommend that movie if you haven’t seen it. Most of these songs are Yoakam originals, although he opens with the James Horton classic “Honky Tonk Man”. This record gets straight to the point, and is exactly what I would want it to be. Ballads like “It Won’t Hurt” and “South of Cincinnati” have an old school Hank Williams feel to them, and up-tempo songs like “I’ll Be Gone” and the title track are absolutely great listening. I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this record.
Oddly enough, if there is one song I didn’t love on the record, it is his cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire”. Trying to update any song sung by Cash is risky business, and I think what is lost here is the dramatic and dark feel of the song, as he turns it into an up-tempo country swing song. The tone of his voice, with a twang not unlike Willie Nelson, doesn’t match up to the original. That being said, as a tangential aside, if you want to see a completely off-the-wall version of “Ring of Fire”, check out the version American Idol singer Adam Lambert performed, with coaching from Randy Travis. This absurd cover is exactly what I’m talking about, in that if you are falling into a ring of fire, there must be a hint of exotic crisis that is present on both the Cash original and Lambert’s middle-eastern update. Randy Travis did not know what to make of Adam Lambert, just like you are all probably just as confused by my reference here.
Anyway, this record, which was NOT available on my standard streaming service, is a wonderful debut from a talented artist, and in my opinion, is fully worthy of the high praise that is heaped upon this effort.