The Austin Chronicle

33 Revolutions Per Page

Tall tales of Texas and beyond

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, June 15, 2012, Music

Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere

by Don McLeese
University of Texas Press, 221 pp., $19.95 (paper)

Scandal is the wellspring of music biographies. Winding roads of drug and/or alcohol abuse and addiction's post-high destruction crisscross the globe from every musical direction. Don McLeese's book Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere focuses on the music behind the man, not the man behind the music. Not that there's much scandal to unearth. Country hero Dwight Yoakam never touched a drop of alcohol or indulged in drugs throughout his L.A.-based career, so McLeese makes clear this won't be a Sharon Stone "dirt sandwich." McLeese, former Austin American-Statesman pop critic, is the first to tackle Yoakam's career, explored through long-winded interviews. He unpacks the vague origins of his subject's hillbilly-rock sound, following a marginal Nashville career to his beginnings in the Southern California roots-punk scene and his rocky professional relationship with longtime lead guitarist Pete Anderson. McLeese explores the authenticity in Yoakam's music, analyzing both how a teetotaler could write anthemic drinking songs, and how a man who spent most of his life as a city slicker became the boot-clad symbol of a cowboy. This fast-paced book acts as a stethoscope to the heart of Yoakam's countrypolitan career, registering a strong beat and clear intention.

Copyright © 2020 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.