Dwight Yoakam Gives Credit to California Musicians
Dwight Yoakam may be from Kentucky, but he says he looked toward the West for many of his influences. His focus was on California and the sounds created by the likes of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the Byrds and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
"Buck was the godfather and then Merle, and Chris Hillman for me," Dwight told the Monterey County Herald newspaper. "And I have to give kudos to the guy that allowed me to feel like I could speak to my peers through a contemporary form of country music, John Fogerty. John was up in Northern California. Everything that he loved about California country music culture, he reinvented it for the world with Creedence Clearwater Revival. He captured the imagination of millions of listeners and musicians."
Fans know that Buck was a mentor to the budding musician, and that one of Dwight's career highlights was recording with his idol, and releasing the subsequent video for 'Streets of Bakersfield.' However, Dwight also sings the praises of another Buck Owens fan whom he admires.
"Without Chris Hillman you don't have the opportunity for Gram Parsons," Yoakam said. "The Burritos never had commercial success at all. What they did was they served as an almost mythological kind of mirage. You could see them on the horizon to walk toward. And without Chris Hillman in The Byrds there wouldn't have been a 'Sweethearts of the Rodeo' album. Roger McGuinn was more a folkie, and he didn't really care for traditional country music. It's Chris that brings in Clarence White playing the B Bender guitar. He gave Gram a platform to make his mark."
Chris was quick to respond positively about the comments. "Dwight is a sweet guy, he says some very nice things about me which I appreciate. Dwight and I have become friends, we will talk for hours ... I've always loved his music, although 20 years ago I wanted to strangle him a few times! Buck would get into his face about it. But Dwight's seasoned out, he's a bright guy and so interesting to talk to."
Chris also addressed the man he knew and loved, Buck Owens, saying, "Buck was a bright man who invested his money; he was a brilliant businessman. He was smart as anyone coming out of Harvard, buying radio and television stations. He was a wonderful guy, as was (son) Buddy and everyone about him. I would hear stories about a waitress, who he found out needed dental work and he paid for it all. Herb (Pedersen) and I played at his funeral. We sang 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' acoustically. He and Dwight, both of them are just good folks."
Dwight will be an actor and a performer on the soundtrack for the upcoming eight part Civil War series on HBO, 'To Appomattox.' The storyline focuses on battle at Appomattox, Va., where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. Others on the soundtrack include Rascal Flatts, Kix Brooks, John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting and Laura Bell Bundy. Rascal Flatts and Kix will join Dwight as characters in the series. Production begins in the spring; an air date will be announced in 2011.