‘Guitars, Cadillacs’ by Dwight Yoakam: Story Behind Legend’s All-Time Hit

by Joe Rutland
guitars-cadillacs-by-dwight-yoakam-story-behind-legends-all-time-hit

It’s hard to believe there was a time when record companies shunned traditional country music. Dwight Yoakam didn’t care.

The 1980s saw the country charts filled with more mellow songs. Acts like Alabama and Anne Murray were aiming for larger audiences, more of a mainstream audience than traditional country. Record companies didn’t want to have people like George Jones or Merle Haggard among their hitmakers.

Those two names are tied forever with country music, the type of music people either dance to or drown their tears in beers.

But Yoakam didn’t follow that trend one bit. In fact, his album “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” was hell-bent on keeping that well-known country sound alive. Yoakam was a fan of Buck Owens, who had the Bakersfield sound (named for Owens’ hometown of Bakersfield, Calif.), and infused that style into his own music. He also was a big fan of those true country music legends like Haggard.

One song that stands out from that era is “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

Yoakam wrote the song himself. Pete Anderson, who played on and helped Yoakam construct his debut album, recalls meeting up with the young singer-songwriter.

“I was a guitar player for hire in the early ’80s in Los Angeles, and I played mostly country music,” Anderson said. “I played some blues gigs and kind of roots rock Americana gigs. He needed a guitar player to play a gig, and we played together. He was playing some of his original songs and I got to hear the songs and said, ‘Man, these are really good songs.'”

Well, Anderson and Yoakam not only worked on “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” but continue to work together all these years later.

Dwight Yoakam Wasn’t A Fan Of Nashville At The Time

From the classic song’s lyrics, it appears that Yoakam was fed up with Nashville’s propensity for chewing up and spitting out talent.

It’s not too friendly to the city where country music makes and breaks the hopes and dreams of so many people.

Here’s how Dwight Yoakam looks upon the city through the eyes of a song.

“Girl you taught me how to hurt real bad and cry myself to sleep
You showed me how this town can shatter dreams
Another lesson about a naive fool that came to Babylon
And found out that the pie don’t taste so sweet

Now it’s guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yeah my guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Is the only thing that keeps me hanging on

There ain’t no glamour in this tinseled land of lost and wasted lives
And painful scars are all that’s left of me
Oh but thank you girl for teaching me brand new ways to be cruel
If I can find my mind now, I guess I’ll just leave

And it’s guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yeah my guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Is the only thing that keeps me hanging on

Oh it’s guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yeah my guitars, Cadillacs, hillbilly music
Is the only thing that keeps me hanging on

It’s the only thing that keeps me hanging on
It’s the only thing that keeps me hanging on”

Listen to Yoakam and friends singing this classic song.

“Guitars, Cadillacs” remains a song that, by itself, stands the test of time. Yoakam’s contributions to going against the grain brought him fans then.

They continue to flock in his direction, thanks to songs like those on “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.”

Outsider.com