A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
University of Texas Press 2012
Born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio, apprenticed in Los Angeles, Dwight Yoakam is not your typical mainstream country music star. Indeed, his honky-tonk style of country has always been a throwback to an earlier era, one in which Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, and Buck Owens ruled the airwaves. It seems an anomaly that Yoakam was at his commercial peak in the days of Garth Brooks and Brooks and Dunn. In Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere (University of Texas Press, 2012), music writer Don McLeese details the history of Yoakam and, especially, his music from an early failed attempt at Nashville acceptance to his tooth-cutting days in the L.A. punk and roots music scene of the early 1980s. They key to Yoakam’s success, writes McLeese, was his vision and determination to make it on mainstream country radio, and make it he did. In the late-80’s through the 90’s Yoakam was one of country music’s biggest stars. Importantly, true to his punk rock roots, he did it on his own terms, making the music that he wanted to make, presenting himself as a character of his own creation.
Don McLeese was formerly the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Austin American-Statesman, as well as country columnist and contributor to Rolling Stone and a senior editor for No Depression. He currently teaches journalism at the University of Iowa.