The Sad, Sad Music of Dwight Yoakam [1990-1999]

It's been a while since we left off on our journey through the music of Dwight Yoakam but here's a rundown of his recorded output through the Nineties.  It is by no means a comprehensive tour but it is truly heartfelt as HERC's two favorite Dwight songs came out in that decade.  Please feel free to drop HERC a line regarding any omissions, bold faced lies or grammatical errors.

In the Spring of 1990, Warner Brothers Japan released an embiggened version of 1989's Just Lookin' For A Hit compilation entitled This Is Dwight Yoakam meant to introduce our man Dwight to Asian audiences.  This compilation featured nine of the ten tracks from Lookin' and added eleven more, including two Christmas songs.  All tracks can be found on other domestically released Dwight albums.

On September 26, 1990, the first single from Dwight's fourth studio album was released. The single "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose" b/w "Since I Started Drinking Again" would peak just outside the Top 10 of the Country singles chart.

Barely a month after that initial single, the album If There Was A Way was released on October 30, 1990.  Featuring 14 tracks, it was Dwight's longest playing studio album yet; so long in fact, that two of those tracks were omitted from the cassette version.  The album did well on the charts, cracking the top half of the Top 200 and landing inside the Top 10 on the Country Albums charts.

"You're The One", the second single off If There Was A Way, was one of Dwight's original 1981 demos.  The beautiful heartbreak ballad was released around Valentine's Day 1991 and made it to #5 on the Country Singles chart.  The b-side of the single was the album's title track, a slow B-3 organ driven plea for a second chance at romance.  A true soul song, "If There Was A Way" is hands down HERC's favorite Dwight Yoakam song.  (So far.)

Deadicated, a Grateful Dead tribute album released in April 1991, featured a contribution - "Truckin'" - from our man Dwight.  The track would later be featured on the 1992 European compilation La Croix D'Amour.

In July 1991, "Nothing's Changed Here", the third single, was released.  With "Sad, Sad Music" on the flipside, the single stalled at #15 on the Country Singles chart here in the States but narrowly missed the top spot on the Canadian Country Singles chart.

Continuing the parade of sad, sad singles from If There Was A Way, "It Only Hurts When I Cry" came out more than a year after the album's release.  Co-written with country legend Roger Miller, the track (with "Let's Work Together" as its b-side) put Yoakam back in the Top 10 on the Country Singles chart again.

In the Spring of 1992, the fifth If There Was A Way single was released.  "The Heart That You Own", another sad song, featured the upbeat, cautionary tale "A Dangerous Man" on the other side of the single yet only managed to sulk its way to #18.  A promotional video was also filmed for the scorchin' album track "It Takes A Lot To Rock You":

The final single from the album was a romantic duet with Patty Loveless.  "Send A Message To My Heart" was the lowest charting single of the six from If There Was A Way peaking at #47.

Among the lesser known items sought out by Dwight Yoakam music collectors is the soundtrack to John Mellencamp's motion picture Falling From Grace, released in February 1992.  It features Dwight performing a song "Common Day Man" written by Mellencamp and he also performs "Sweet Suzanne" with Buzzin' Cousins, a one-off supergroup with Mellencamp, John Prine, Joe Ely and James McMurty.  The Buzzin' Cousins single only made it to #68 on the Country Singles chart.

Yoakam's next soundtrack contribution was his cover of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" for the comedy Honeymoon In Vegas.  The entire soundtrack featured country and rock acts covering Elvis songs.  Dwight didn't get much radio play with the single although it did land just inside the Country Top 40 and went on to become a concert staple for Dwight. 

To introduce Dwight Yoakam and his music to the emerging country fan base in Europe, his record company issued a 12 song sampler, similar to the super-sized This Is Dwight Yoakam aimed at Asian audiences.  Released in September 1992, La Croix D'Amour (translates as The Cross Of Love) was heavy on cover versions including Dwight's takes on "Things We Said Today" by the Beatles (released as a single) and "Here Comes The Night" by Them.  A couple of other Dwight originals ("Hey Little Girl" and "Doin' What I Did") would also see domestic release down the road but at the time of this album's release it was highly sought after because of the rarity of the tracks.

After co-writing three of the singles from the previous album, Kostas returned in March 1993 with a co-writer credit on "Ain't That Lonely Yet", the first single from Dwight Yoakam's fifth studio album.  It would be one of Dwight's most successful singles, hitting the penultimate spot on the Country chart and coming in at #1 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, an unofficial #101.  The single's b-side "Lonesome Roads" would also appear on the album.  "Ain't That Lonely Yet" also won Dwight a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

That fifth studio album was titled This Time and it was released at the end of March 1993.  Like his two previous efforts, the album was given a five star rating by allmusic.com's Thom Jurek.  On both the Country and Pop Albums charts, This Time made a better showing than last time, going Top 5 and Top 25 respectively.

The lonesome train video that accompanied This Time's second single - "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere" - was actually filmed down the road from HERC's Hideaway!  Released in June 1993, the  song peaked at #2.  Of note to collectors is the otherwise unavailable b-side "Something To Talk About".

Decidedly more rockin' than his previous singles, "Fast As You" charted the first week of July 1993, peaking at #2 on the Country Singles chart and eventually crossing over to #70 on the Hot 100.  Album track "Home For Sale" was the b-side in the US.

Kostas teamed up with Yoakam to write the song that would be Dwight's fourth single: "Try Not To Look So Pretty".  The song, backed with the Stones-ish "Wild Ride", broke the string of Yoakam's three consecutive #2 Country Singles when it peaked outside the Top 10 after its release on Valentine's Day 1994.

"Pocket of A Clown" was the fifth and final single from This Time.  It was released in June 1994 and made it to #22 on the Country Singles chart.  In July 1994, a concert performance at The Warfield in San Francisco was recorded for a live album.

In September 1994, Dwight released another video collection called Pieces of Time on VHS.  The video collected Dwight's video output from 1990's If There Was A Way though 1993's This Time including the soundtrack contribution "Suspicious Minds".  In 2003, Pieces Of Time was released on DVD.

The San Francisco concert cited above became the album Dwight Live and was released in May 1995 and managed to go Top 10 on Country Albums chart and Top 60 on the Hot 100.  The seventeen track album, like his concerts at the time, ended with a more than seven minute version of "Suspicious Minds".

Dwight contributed two older tracks to the soundtrack of the film Chasers.  The album was released near the end of August 1995 and featured "Guitars, Cadillacs" and "Doin' What I Did," which was previously only available on the La Croix D'Amour compilation.  As noted on the CD cover above, Dwight and his guitarist/producer Pete Anderson also composed the film's score.

On Halloween 1995, shortly after his 39th birthday, Dwight Yoakam dropped Gone, his sixth studio album, which is steeped in Sixties Pop.  One of HERC's favorite Yoakam albums to listen to all the way through, Gone did manage to crossover onto the Top 200 where it peaked at #30.  One of the album's two Kostas/Yoakam compositions was released as the first single around the same time as the album.  "Nothing" (below) made it to #20 on the Country Singles chart.

The album's title track, "Gone (That'll Be Me)" was the second single (above) but it missed the Top 50 as did the third single "Sorry You Asked" (below).

Gone's fourth and final single, "Heart Of Stone", failed to chart altogether in America.  The album's failure to gain traction at Country radio coincided with Yoakam's emergence as an actor in the award-winning film Sling Blade, although he'd been accepting small parts for almost five years by this point.
Dwight's next album was a collection of cover versions, both previously released and newly recorded, he called Under The Covers.  Released in July 1997, the album was a moderate crossover success as it cracked the upper half of the Top 200.  The album's opening cut, Dwight's rocked-up twangified version of Roy Orbison's "Claudette" was the first single released from the album and it was quickly followed by "Baby Don't Go", a duet with Sheryl Crow on a tune originally performed by Sonny & Cher.  But the songs that really caught HERC's ear were the full-on bluegrass treatment given to the Clash's "Train In Vain" and a fairly faithful reading of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" as made famous by Glen Campbell.  With Pete's guitar punctuating each lyrical line and Skip Edwards adding that soulful B3 organ, the song is HERC's second all-time favorite Dwight Yoakam performance.

Barely thirty days after his covers album hit stores, Yoakam issued Come On Christmas, his first Christmas album, a ten track collection including two originals including the title track.  Dwight had issued a one-off Christmas single back in 1987 - "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" b/w "Christmas Eve With The Babylonian Cowboys Featuring "Jingle Bells"" - that was later included on This Is Dwight Yoakam compilation in 1990.  Though that b-side was left off Come On Christmas, "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" was once again issued as a single.  The other Yoakam original song, "Santa Can't Stay", was issued as a single as well with "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" on the flip. The third and final single from the album was Dwight's rollicking Tejano-style cover of "Silver Bells".

After years of proving himself an adept interpreter of other people's songs, Dwight saw his own songs get covered on the tribute Songs Of Dwight Yoakam: Will Sing For Food in June of 1998.  Executive Produced by Pete Anderson, Dwight's longtime partner in song, the charitable effort was, according to the cover, A Benefit For The Homeless.  Although the performances were admirable, HERC prefers the original Dwight versions.  EXCEPT for the rockin' redo of "Doin' What I Did" by The BAcksliders, who had a bit of a leg up since Pete Anderson had produced their sophomore album in 1997.

Yoakam's seventh studio album. A Long Way Home, was released in June 1998.   For the first time, the album featured all original Dwight Yoakam compositions and would narrowly miss the Top 10 on the Country Albums chart while climbing to #60 on the Top 200.  The last track on the album, "Maybe You like It, Maybe You Don't" is a Elvis-y reinterpretation of the eighth track on the album "Only Want You More", a rockabilly rave-up.  

Two singles were serviced from the album in short order: "Things Change" (above) managed to crack the Hot 100, landing at #99 while "These Arms" (below) failed to chart.    The video for the former was also filmed near The Hideaway while the latter starred Vince Vaughan and Joey Lauren Adams.

As he had done in the Eighties, Dwight Yoakam closed out the Nineties with a greatest hits compilation featuring a few newly recorded cover versions.  Last Chance For A Thousand Years: Dwight Yoakam's Greatest Hits From The 90's was released in May 1999 and in addition to three fresh covers featured eleven of his biggest hits and eventually peaked at #80 on the Top 200 on it's way to becoming Yoakam's second biggest selling album to date.

Dwight's twangy cover version of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" was the first single from the hits compilation.  It was used in a commercial for The Gap that Summer and just missed the Top 10 on the Country Singles chart, coming in at #12.  Over on the Hot 100, it peaked at #64.

The last single of the Millennium for Dwight was an adaption of Rodney Crowell's "Thinking About Leaving" which made it to #54 on the Country chart.  HERC's Mix of Last Chance For A Thousand Years closes out this post.  Look for the final chapter of HERC's review of Yoakam's musical career, featuring the years 2000-2013, coming soon.  Thank you and goodnight.

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