Album Title: dwightyoakamacoustic.net
Artist: Dwight Yoakam
Genre: alt-country, country
Label: Warner Brothers
Release Date: May 30, 2000

Overview:
dwightyoakamacoustic.net is an acoustic-only album by outside-the-mainstream country songster Dwight Yoakam. The format of the album is just Dwight recording many of his more well-known songs (and a few that are less well-known) using only acoustic guitars; as the album cover says, it's "justaguitar@dogbone," which means that it's just Dwight and an acoustic guitar at Dogbone Studios.

The album manages to jam twenty five tracks into a running time of about seventy eight minutes and provides a good mix of Dwight's classics along with some lesser-known choices. Notably, the song selection focuses on his earlier albums, with just two cuts from his post-This Time works. The acoustic format works well with Dwight's style, making this a very strong album.

Also of note is the packaging, which is extremely minimalist. The album's front is just a sticker on the CD case, and the back merely lists the tracks in a typewriter-esque font.

Track Listing:
1. Bury Me (3:12)
2. 1,000 Miles (4:02)
3. Little Sister (3:20)
4. Please, Please Baby (2:04)
5. It Won't Hurt (4:00)
6. I'll Be Gone (2:30)
7. Johnson's Love (4:24)
8. Little Ways (2:56)
9. This Drinkin' Will Kill Me (2:44)
10. Nothing's Changed Here (2:59)
11. Throughout All Time (2:55)
12. Sad, Sad Music (2:09)
13. It Only Hurts When I Cry (2:27)
14. Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses) (3:47)
15. The Distance Between You And Me (2:06)
16. A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (3:13)
17. Two Doors Down (4:38)
18. Readin', Rightin', Rt. 23 (4:08)
19. If There Was A Way (2:33)
20. Fast As You (3:55)
21. Home For Sale (3:01)
22. A Long Way Home (2:52)
23. Lonesome Roads (2:48)
24. Things Change (3:07)
25. Guitars, Cadillacs (1:50)

Song Details:
Here are some additional details about the tracks on the album, with commentary.

Bury Me (3:12)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1986 album
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
The album starts off strongly with a rendition of one of Dwight's earliest hits, a song about yearning for home and for a better life in the afterlife. This track is a very good opener, as it is a solid number in and of itself and gives a great sample of what kind of music you can expect on the album.

1,000 Miles (4:02)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
The first of a run of three songs from Dwight's second album, this track features a very mellow sound that meshes well with the melancholic lyrics. The song is about getting far away from a relationship that has fallen apart.

Little Sister (3:20)
Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
This song was originally written for Elvis Presley, but Dwight covers it quite well. It's probably the most upbeat track on the album, and to my ears this is the superior version. The guitarwork on this song almost forces you to snap your fingers or tap your foot in time with the music.

Please, Please Baby (2:04)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
Another rather uptempo song about pleading with a significant other to come back home. This song doesn't particularly stand out, but it's a nice alternative version of the track.

It Won't Hurt (4:00)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1986 album
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
This song turns on the melancholy, as it tells the tale of a man drinking away the pain of a broken relationship. Dwight's voice takes over the song throughout much of this track, demonstrating that although his voice doesn't have an enormous range, he has mastery over that range and a unique vocal style.

I'll Be Gone (2:30)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1986 album
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
A little fast-paced ditty fills the sixth slot on the album about a man constantly on the run who can't bear to stay with one woman for long. This is probably the most challenging track on the album in terms of instrumentation; at least by ear, it was a complex piece to approximate. The track is quite enjoyable, though; another strong choice for this album.

Johnson's Love (4:24)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
This song starts off a second run of tracks from Hillbilly Deluxe with this exceptionally poignant song about someone whose life was merely a shadow of its former self after losing the love of his life. This version is very close to the original, but the raw majesty of the song (delivered oh so softly by Dwight, but still powerful, anyway) comes through loud and clear here.

Little Ways (2:56)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
This is one of Dwight's biggest hits, and this version slows down the song a bit, allowing the beauty of this song of depression and anxiety in the face of a hard lover to shine through. This song exemplifies the strength of this album: one can hear the song in its entirety, and appreciate the amazing vocal subtleties and strong guitar work that Dwight Yoakam is performing here, giving a much greater respect for the performer.

This Drinkin' Will Kill Me (2:44)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
Little Ways is followed by a more uptempo track about the brutal acceptance of a decline in life; about how despair has almost become a part of life, and yet the person underneath wants to escape. This song is a shining example of the possiblity of the genre, one built by the likes of Hank Williams and torn down by the likes of the Rhinestone Cowboy.

Nothing's Changed Here (2:59)
Written by Dwight Yoakam and Kostas
Original version appears on Dwight's 1990 album
If There Was A Way
This is an effective song about denial about a relationship that has turned south. It features some very strong acoustic guitar work throughout the song, but the strength again comes from the vocal work.

Throughout All Time (2:55)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
About the memory of a lost loved one, this song is a more uptempo track about the memories that remain forever in the wake of losing someone dear. Not much to really comment on; another solid track, but it doesn't shine out above the others.

Sad, Sad Music (2:09)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1990 album
If There Was A Way
This is a very fitting song for the album; a mellow track about how sad music is often appropriate for sad situations, and how silence is somehow much worse. The period of silence at the end of the track is perfect; not too long, just enough to make it clear how terribly sad silence can often be. Wonderfully executed.

It Only Hurts When I Cry (2:27)
Written by Dwight Yoakam and Roger Miller
Original version appears on Dwight's 1990 album
If There Was A Way
A rarity on this disc, this is actually a faster version than the original version (at least during the verses). Once all of the noise and pomp of the album version of this song is stripped away, the song becomes a very stark and almost depressing piece, almost as if all of the instrumentation in the album version is somehow slighting the song itself. This is the superior version of the song, to my ears.

Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses) (3:47)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1988 album
Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room
This is a home run in every version I've ever heard, and this is no exception. It is a song about murder, love, and confusion all meshed together in a moment of disillusion and captured wonderfully in the music. The final verse about wandering about in confusion before deciding what to do is unbelievably powerful music, and this version is heart-wrenching.

The Distance Between You And Me (2:06)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1990 album
If There Was A Way
This song has the unfortunate slot of being sandwiched between two utterly magnificent songs on this album, but it still comes off strong on its own. This song is about both the figurative and literal distance between two mixed-up lovers, aided greatly by the strong guitar work on the song. It would perhaps be more memorable if not for the track that follows it...

A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (3:13)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1993 album
This Time
This is one of my favorite songs of all time, and once again, my feeling is that this album provides the superior version of the track. This is a fantastic song about isolation and loneliness, and this track is produced to make Dwight's voice sound slightly tinny and distant, which just accentuates the lyrics. The central section of this song features a lengthy yodel, which comes off as a gentle yet mournful cry that by other artists would come off as very corny but, with Dwight's voice and temperament, it just works.

Two Doors Down (4:38)
Written by Dwight Yoakam and Kostas
Original version appears on Dwight's 1993 album
This Time
The preceding strong track is followed by a subtle track with some very subtle guitar work in places. The song has a very slow, plodding feel to it; it is probably one of the weaker tracks on the album, but it is hard to stand out when surrounded by a large number of stalwart tracks, as this album features.

Readin', Rightin', Rt. 23 (4:08)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1987 album
Hillbilly Deluxe
If you're looking for a song with a social conscience, this ould be your choice. The song is all about the question of where the real value in life is, comparing urban life to life in the mining hills of West Virginia; it doesn't really draw a conclusion, but it does allude to the fact that people abandoning small towns for an urban life may be missing something important. A strong song with a good point.

If There Was A Way (2:33)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1990 album
If There Was A Way
This is a melancholic track about wondering if perhaps burnt bridges can be recovered, or at least hoping to that regard. It doesn't particularly stand out on this album, but it does have a unique style that is incomparable on this disc.

Fast As You (3:55)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1993 album
This Time
This is a faster paced ("driving" would be a good word) track about how a jilted lover will "show" his ex by being reckless with the hearts of others. It's not quite as uptempo as the original, but it has more of a melancholic feel to it that the original was lacking. It's a much different take on the song; which one is better depends largely on one's tastes.

Home For Sale (3:01)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1993 album
This Time
This is perhaps the weakest track on the disc, a largely forgettable number about a dissolved marriage and the memories left behind in the house that is being sold. Not particularly strong (I felt it was the weakest track on This Time) and an odd choice for the disc.

A Long Way Home (2:52)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1998 album
A Long Way Home
One of two "newer" songs for Dwight from his 1998 album, this is a strong track about how it's often a long distance in many ways (mentally, physically, emotionally) to home. This is one song on here that is outshined by the original version.

Lonesome Roads (2:48)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1993 album
This Time
A song about a drifter filled with self-pity, this song has a nice downbeat feel to it that fits well with the dejection expressed in the lyrics. A very nice acoustic version of this track.

Things Change (3:07)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1998 album
A Long Way Home
The lyrics of this song are actually that of multiple conversations of couples breaking up; this concept is carried by some of Dwight's strongest vocals on the album and some strong acoustic guitar work. Add it all together and you actually get something that is greater than the sum of its parts, and what would probably be a great album closer if not for the wonderful addition at the end of the disc.

Guitars, Cadillacs (1:50)
Written by Dwight Yoakam
Original version appears on Dwight's 1986 album
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
This album finishes with a home run. Rather than being acoustic, this is actually an a capella version of the track, much slower than the original, and just brimming with emotion. The original is one of the great country tracks of the 1980s, and this is a spectacular reworking of the original. A magnificent way to close off the album.

Overall Thoughts:
This album should be listened to by anyone who has ever had an interest in playing an acoustic guitar; for me, it encouraged me to pick up the instrument again after years of collecting dust in my closet. I was able to roughly approximate many of the pieces by ear; they aren't complicated at all and provide a wonderfully pleasant listening experience.

On top of that, Dwight's vocal style makes it easily possible for someone with a limited vocal range (such as myself) to sing along; after getting this album, I spent an afternoon learning A Thousand Miles From Nowhere and by the end of the afternoon could do a passable job with it both vocally and instrumentally. That's an aspect that most modern music fails at; it's very difficult for an amateur holding an acoustic guitar to really pick up many songs.

But more than anything, this is just a truly enjoyable listen in every respect. Dwight's voice is admittedly an acquired taste, but once you get in the flow of it, this album is amazingly strong and enjoyable in every respect. A handful of tracks are absolute knockouts (A Thousand Miles From Nowhere, Little Ways, and Guitars, Cadillacs come to mind immediately), and the rest are almost all very strong.

The only thing that I felt was missing was a mournful solo version of Streets of Bakersfield (or perhaps an acoustic duet with Buck Owens), but perhaps it was appropriate not to have this on the album.

But most importantly, this song helped me to rediscover a genre of music that I had almost forgotten about. I had long been a fan of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Buck Owens, and other early pioneers of country music. These were men with real talent who could develop something amazing out of merely using a guitar and an imperfect voice, drawing from their experiences to musically relate things about life, just a man and his instrument. Somewhere along the way, this was all forgotten about in the eye of mainstream crossovers, bubblegum pop, and the utter dumbing-down of the genre into a prepackaged audio meal for people to listen to and then forget about just as quickly. Dwight Yoakam here simply demonstrates all of the things that are wrong with the genre; listen to this disc alongside the latest album of tripe from Toby Keith or Diamond Rio and the raw musicianship of Dwight Yoakam will just blow you away.

If You Liked This Album...:
There are many strong acoustic-driven "alt"-country albums of late that I would recommend, along with one that isn't acoustic, but you will assuredly like if you enjoyed this one.
American Recordings by Johnny Cash is an amazingly strong acoustic-driven album from the man in black; if you've never heard it and even remotely like dwightyoakamacoustic.net, run to your local record store and pick this up.
Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris is similarly strong with a strong bluegrass touch over the whole thing.
No Depression by Uncle Tupelo is a landmark album in the alt-country genre; if you can find a copy, pick it up.

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