Don McLeese’s new book entitled Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, and released by University of Texas Press, gives an almost academic look at Dwight’s recording career and rise to stardom. While the book isn’t exactly a chapter to chapter account of each release or milestone, it is pretty close, leaning a bit heavier on the late 80’s and 90s when Yoakam was a star on the country charts and radio. If you’re looking for a tell-all about girlfriends, film career, idiosyncrasies, and such, you’ll have to wait for that. This book is 90% about Dwight’s music and the music business and merely touches on his ventures into acting and directing.
McLeese also does little to flame the fire in the failed relationship with producer/guitarist Pete Anderson, who worked with, and helped shape Dwight’s sound for years. The subject is breached, but neither party has much to say about the matter, and both are very aware that they accomplished something special together in the years worked together. And both cashed some pretty big checks during the same time frame.
The book is sprinkled with interviews from Yoakam, with equal time given to Anderson, and a few quotes from Warner Brothers insiders, musicians there at the beginning, and others in the music business, but it seems McLeese met with Dwight merely once or twice when compiling the book. I suppose though, for this type of writing, numerous interviews were not needed. McLeese is definitely a fan, and the book is written as such, and when he swoons about Yoakam’s live show, I could do nothing but smile and agree as each time I have seen him I have been blown away. The only thing that bothered me when reading was that a lot of the highlights seemed to be repetitive with the beginning and ending of chapters blurring together.
Overall, this is fun book for fans and the casual listener looking to learn a bit about Yoakam’s music. It did get me to break out Dwight on shuffle and listen more closely to some of his past albums which I have always enjoyed, so I consider it a success. Now, if McLeese would just go out and spend the next five years with Yoakam and come back with a memoir like Jimmy McDonough’s Shakey, I’d be satisfied.
RIYL: Bakersfield Biscuits, Guitars, Cadillacs, etc., etc.
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