Dwight David Yoakam (born October 23, 1956 in Pikeville, Kentucky) is a highly underrated and at times misunderstood country artist active since the 1980s. Though he's had his fair share of radio hits, people consider him a nice alternative to mainstream country. He's known for being very different than most country artists out there, but at the same time still selling well (25 million records worldwide).
He began his career in Nashville, Tennessee (what else would you expect?) in 1984, struggling at first since Honky Tonk was considered a Dead Horse Genre. After he was laughed out of Nashville, he moved to Los Angeles, California in hopes that he could gain a better audience; he has been living there ever since. His first release was self-financed, this being unique for the Country genre at the time. He soon caught on and gained some popularity. His video for "Honky Tonk Man" was the first Country music video to ever be played on MTV.
His biggest album was released in 1988, titled Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room. It won him critical acclaim, and very high sales. The album almost hit number 1 on the Billboard 200. If the album had succeeded, he would have beaten Garth Brooks to the title of first Country Music album to debut at that position.
He then released 2 more studio albums that got similar acclaim, but significantly smaller sales. Honky Tonk was slowly starting to die out by the mid to late 90s. Since then, he remains popular in name, but not quite in style. Despite being a legend amongst Country artists, he usually doesn't get much recognition as he used to. Nevertheless, his older music is still fondly remembered.
He became something of a Reclusive Artist around the 2000s, mostly due to a long string of Troubled Production. He then brushed the world with a surprise album in 2012 named 3 Pears. The album garnered Yoakam with some of the strongest reception he's had in his career and has brought a new attention to the honky-tonker that hand't been shown before.
As a side note, he's worked as an actor as well. He plays a damn scary lead villain (take a look at his role in Sling Blade).
- Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (1986)
- Hillbilly Deluxe (1987)
- Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (1988)
- Just Lookin' for a Hit (1989)
- If There Was a Way (1990)
- This Time (1993)
- Dwight Live (1995)
- Gone (1995)
- Under the Covers (1997)
- Come On Christmas (1997)
- A Long Way Home (1998)
- Last Chance for a Thousand Years: Dwight Yoakam's Greatest Hits from the 90's (1999)
- dwightyoakamacoustic.net (2000)
- Tomorrow's Sounds Today (2000)
- South of Heaven, West of Hell (2001)
- Population Me (2003)
- In Others' Words (2003)
- Dwight's Used Records (2004)
- Blame the Vain (2005)
- Dwight Sings Buck (2007)
- 3 Pears (2012)
- Second Hand Heart (2015)
- Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars... (2016)
- Sling Blade (1996) as Doyle Hargraves
- The Newton Boys (1998) as Brentwood "Brent" Glasscock
- Panic Room (2002) as Raoul
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) as Sheriff Belmont
- Bandidas (2006) as Tyler Jackson
- Logan Lucky (2017) as Warden Burns
- Cry Macho (2021) as Howard Polk
Dwight Yoakam provides examples of the following tropes:
- all lowercase letters: His 2000 album dwightyoakamacoustic.net.
- Break-Up Song: "Ain't That Lonely Yet"—as the title suggests, it falls under the "I don't miss you" variety.
- Christmas Songs: Come On Christmas charted a cover of Elvis Presley's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town".
- Cover Version: Under the Covers and Dwight Sings Buck were both full-on cover albums: the former of various artists, the latter of Buck Owens. He's also charted covers of "Suspicious Minds", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "I Want You to Want Me".
- Fade Out: "Sorry You Asked?" fades out in the middle of a verse to evoke the narrator rambling on and on about his broken heart.
- Fake Band: He teamed up with John Mellencamp, Joe Ely, James McMurtry, and John Prine for a fake band called Buzzin' Cousins. They cut the song "Sweet Suzanne" for Mellencamp's acting debut in the 1992 movie Falling from Grace.
- Greatest Hits Album: Just Lookin' for a Hit (1989) and Last Chance for a Thousand Years: Dwight Yoakam's Greatest Hits from the 90's (1999).
- Intentional Heartbreaker: Referenced in "Intentional Heartache": a woman, upon catching her man in the act, retaliates by wrecking his car and spray-painting his belongings.
- In the Style of: He has a lot of covers of songs outside his own genre. For example, a rockabilly cover of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", as well as two covers of Elvis Presley songs, "Little Sister" and "Suspicious Minds".
- Off his 2016 album, "Purple Rain" by Prince in the style of Dwight's usual Honky Tonk. It sounds better than you'd expect.
- Live Album: Dwight Live (1995)
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Always Late (With Your Kisses)", "Little Ways", "Pocket of a Clown", "The Late Great Golden State".
- Murder Ballad: "She Wore Red Dresses" has a man kill a woman for cheating on him.
- Record Producer: Pete Anderson produced the vast majority of his work, and helped define Dwight's sound with his unique guitar playing.
- Signature Headgear: A cowboy hat pulled down tight over his eyes is so much a part of his signature look that he is practically unrecognizable without it.
- Signature Style: Driven mainly by Pete Anderson's guitar work and Yoakam's nasal, slurred, Bob Dylan-esque voice.
- Song Style Shift: "These Arms" sounds like a traditional Three Chords and the Truth honky-tonk ballad until the chorus, which has much heavier string and power chord-driven instrumentation and more complex chord patterns.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Intentional Heartache" ends on a presumably ad-libbed monologue about the song's central character.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Sorry You Asked?" goes from E-flat to E.
- Unplugged Version: dwightyoakamacoustic.net features acoustic renditions of 25 past songs.