The Music Blog: Bakersfield

When I was a kid evening life meant gathering around the television watching shows your dad selected. This was a pretty common occurrence on the block. I was about ten years old when my parents bought me a small black and white television but even then, most nights the family gathered around and watched something together at least for a while. One of the shows my dad really liked and really everyone liked was Hee Haw.  It was a fascinating show full of Opry, and comedy and of course was really centered on the talents of two men who always seemed part musician and part comedian. My dad loved Roy Clark and every time Roy played he marveled at how amazing a musician he was. Who didn’t like Roy Clark, the sheer talent and brilliance of how he played. It was that other guy though who I loved. I don’t know if it was the red, white and blue guitar, his band the Buckaroos or that my mom always joked that he was so ugly he was cute, but Buck Owens was the reason I sat and watched. I waited for Buck to have his one song with his band that he got. I knew absolutely nothing about who he was, figured he was some low-level country star that had found a home on Hee Haw. It would be years before I knew better. Eventually I just became more and more introverted, wanted to spend more and more time alone in my room listening to my music and watching my shows and dreaming my dreams of having girlfriends who in reality would never notice me. We all grow up a little and grow apart.

I am deeply sorry if I have ever trapped you in a conversation about music. While everybody may love music to some extent or another, I can get a little nutty. I want to know what connects bands, the back stories, the breaks they got, the inner struggles and the inner demons. I love it all and at different times in my life I have been in love with pretty much every genre there is. I grew up listening to country music, its all my dad played and its all he plays now so naturally at different times I have loved country music. I have some strong opinions about today’s country. I am not a fan, and I certainly don’t really enjoy the bubble gum country and wanna be rock stars.

In 1988 Dwight Yoakam released his third album Buenos Noches From a Lonely Room. I liked Dwight, I liked that he was not so much a Nashville driven musician, and I loved his voice.  That album though really made me a fan and really made me love Dwight. That album and the song Streets of Bakersfield took me back to a guy with a red, white, and blue guitar. It was the first time I realized there was a connection between Buck Owns and Dwight Yoakam that went beyond a song on the radio. That guy who I believed in my young mind to be a minor country star had in fact been a big star and who along with others, most notably Merle Haggard, rebelled against the Nashville polished country scene to create something different, harder, more electric with a back beat and a drive like rock and roll. Buck Owns helped make the Bakersfield Sound.

Dwight Yoakam may have been born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio, but his musical roots were formed and forged in Los Angeles and was as diverse as you could imagine including punk music. He had moved to Los Angeles because Nashville had rejected the hillbilly honky tonk country he was playing. He found a home in Los Angles so no wonder he would form such a powerful relationship with Buck Ownes and the sound of Bakersfield.  He is one of my absolute favorite musicians. I absolutely adore his music and yea I can hear a whole lot of Buck when I listen to him. As you might expect he has paid homage to Buck including an entire album devoted to Buck. Now if he would only play a red, white and blue guitar.

Mike out

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