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Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
     

Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere

4.0 1
by Don McLeese
 

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From his formative years playing pure, hardcore honky-tonk for mid-'80s Los Angeles punk rockers through his subsequent surge to the top of the country charts, Dwight Yoakam has enjoyed a singular career. An electrifying live performer, superb writer, and virtuosic vocalist, he has successfully bridged two musical worlds that usually have little use for each other&

Overview

From his formative years playing pure, hardcore honky-tonk for mid-'80s Los Angeles punk rockers through his subsequent surge to the top of the country charts, Dwight Yoakam has enjoyed a singular career. An electrifying live performer, superb writer, and virtuosic vocalist, he has successfully bridged two musical worlds that usually have little use for each other—commercial country and its alternative/Americana/roots-rocking counterpart. Defying the label "too country for rock, too rock for country," Yoakam has triumphed while many of his peers have had to settle for cult acceptance. Four decades into his career, he has sold more than 25 million records and continues to tour regularly, with an extremely loyal fan base.

In Dwight Yoakam, award-winning music journalist Don McLeese offers the first musical biography of this acclaimed artist. Tracing the seemingly disparate influences in Yoakam's music, McLeese shows how he has combined rock and roll, rockabilly, country, blues, and gospel into a seamless whole. In particular, McLeese explores the essential issue of "authenticity" and how it applies to Yoakam, as well as to country music and popular culture in general. Drawing on wide-ranging interviews with Yoakam and his management, while also benefitting from the perspectives of others closely associated with his musical success (including producer-guitarist Pete Anderson, Yoakam's partner throughout his most popular and creative decades), Dwight Yoakam pays tribute to the musician who has established himself as a visionary beyond time, an artist who could title an album Tomorrow's Sounds Today and deliver it.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In spite of Dwight Yoakam's popularity and impressive ability to cross musical boundaries, no biography has ever before been published. Award-winning music critic McLeese (New York Times Reader: Arts & Culture) fills that gap with this jaunty, affectionate, honest, and compelling book. Drawing on interviews with Yoakam and his friends and fellow musicians, McLeese guides us through Yoakam's early years in Kentucky and Ohio in the 1970s, where his formative musical influences were country music and the Monkees, to his years in California, where he perfected his musical persona and came roaring out of the L.A. roots-punk circuit and into the national spotlight. McLeese takes us album by album from Yoakam's firecracker debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (1986), to his 2007 tribute to his mentor Buck Owens, Dwight Sings Buck. Yoakam emerges from these pages as a hard-working, honest artist, deeply committed to compositions that both preserve the heritage of country music and push its boundaries to carry the music, the tradition, and his listeners into new territories. VERDICT This lovingly crafted and compulsively readable biography is essential for fans of Yoakam and lovers of good music writing.—Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Music critic McLeese (Journalism/Univ. of Iowa; The New York Times Reader: Arts & Culture, 2010, etc.) examines the career of iconoclastic country star Dwight Yoakam. The author informs us early on that this book is not intended to be a biography, but rather "an extended piece of music and culture criticism." Of course, McLeese provides some biographical detail, mainly as an entry into how Yoakam's upbringing and experiences have informed his work. Of particular interest to the author, clearly a fan of his subject, is the musician's childhood fascination with television and especially the Monkees, influences that led Yoakam to Los Angeles, where his career began. Though his earliest support came, oddly, from that city's punk-music scene, it's clear that Yoakam had his sights set on Nashville stardom from the beginning. The book often reads as a refutation of the charge that Yoakam, because he paid attention to his image and put on a good show, and later pursued an acting career, is somehow less "authentic" an artist because of it. Though McLeese does a fine job countering that idea, his focus on it over 200-plus pages begins to feel defensive. The narrative benefits from the author's extensive access to Yoakam and his collaborators, most notably longtime guitarist and producer Pete Anderson, as it proceeds album by album through his career. Context on the country-music industry and how it has changed during Yoakam's time, particularly B.G. and A.G. (before and after the rise of Garth Brooks in the early 1990s), adds depth to what might otherwise read as an extended magazine article. Perfect for Yoakam fans looking for a book-length critical defense of his work.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292723818
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
03/15/2012
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
391,909
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Don McLeese was formerly the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Austin American-Statesman, as well as country columnist and frequent contributor to Rolling Stone and a senior editor for No Depression. He has chronicled Dwight Yoakam in reviews, features, and interviews from the beginning of the artist’s recording career through the present day. He currently teaches journalism at the University of Iowa. His most recent book is The New York Times Reader: Arts and Culture.

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Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who likes Dwight Yoakam or country music will really enjoy this book. Don McLeese presents an amazingly well-researched and vividly detailed portrait not only of Yoakam but of the country music genre, particularly how is has evolved during the course of Yoakam’s career. McLeese who had abundant access to Yoakam during the writing of this book, offers fascinating insights into Yoakam as an artist. He also explores Yoakam’s personal side, with a special focus on his background. I highly recommend this book to fans of Dwight Yoakam.