Top 10 Essential Dwight Yoakam Albums

The Country Superstar's Essential Works

What does it take to make a legend? Longevity? Quality? Style? All of that, and something extra, to turn a blip on the radar into a fully blown legend. It's impossible to say whether or not Dwight Yoakam will become a country music legend, remembered for centuries to come, but there's no doubt that should be: He's got longevity, quality, style and that certain something that makes him a star.

Ever since his debut in the mid-1980s Yoakam has stayed true to his Kentucky-cum-Bakersfield sound, never once opting to flow with the mainstream. He has never compromised his honest, hillbilly roots. If you're a Dwight Yoakam fan, make sure your music collection includes these essentials:

of 10

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.

Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc.

Yoakam thundered onto the scene with his impressive debut, Guitars, Cadillacs Etc., Etc., which was released as a ten-song LP in 1986. It became his first of three consecutive No. 1 Billboard Country Albums and was strengthened by the singles "Honky Tonk Man" and "Guitars, Cadillacs."

of 10

Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room

Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room. Credit:

If nothing else, 1988's Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room will stand out forever as the album that drew the great Buck Owens out of a premature retirement as Yoakam resurrected Owens' old tune "Streets of Bakersfield" and got him to duet. Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room firmly cemented Yoakam's position as a solid performer and superior country artist with some of the sharpest, wittiest and most cutting lyrics country music had to offer.

of 10

If There Was a Way

If There Was a Way. Credit:

By 1990 Yoakam had become a fixture in country music and was well on his way to becoming a legend. If There Was a Way was his fourth studio album and it produced five Top 40 Billboard Hot Country Singles hits: "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose," "You're the One," "Nothing's Changed Here," "It Only Hurts When I Cry" and "Send a Message to My Heart."

If There Was a Way also features the first in Yoakam's long string of "any great rock song can be a great country song" covers, with an impressive rendition of the Canned Heat classic rocker "Let's Work Together."

of 10

This Time

This Time. Credit:

Yoakam hit his stride with the release of This Time in 1993While his early years were sparked by a great deal of radio play and some excellent performances, his artistic genius shines through in this brilliantly crafted album, and listeners and critics took notice: This Time went triple platinum. From Bakersfield honky-tonk to hard-driving, Southern-fried rock, Yoakam proves he is more than just some guy in pair of tight jeans and a Stetson.

of 10


Gone. Credit:

Gone is one of the greatest forgotten albums I've ever heard. It is Yoakam's sixth studio album, issued in 1995, and his first album that failed to produce a Top Ten country hit. Despite some incredible music, tight production, sharp new sounds and Yoakam's usual, incredible lyrical artistry, Gone remains relatively buried, unnoticed by all but the most devout fans. Fans who have listened to Gone agree: it's their favorite. This oft overlooked gem is one that begs to be heard.

of 10

A Long Way Home

A Long Way Home. Credit:

A Long Way Home, a little-known gem released in 1998, could very easily be called Yoakam's finest album that is as good as, or perhaps even better, than This Time. The only thing A Long Way Home lacked was a push from the label to get it some radio play; as a piece of artistry, it is absolutely unparalleled.

of 10 Credit:

For several years Yoakam would set apart a portion of his concerts to play a few solo acoustic songs. His adoring audiences responded so favorably to these intimate performances that Yoakam decided to sit down and record 25 songs from his expansive catalog, and 2000's is the result.

of 10

Tomorrow's Sounds Today

Tomorrow's Sounds Today. Credit:

Yoakam pulls out all the stops with 2000's Tomorrow's Sounds Today. With sharp-as-nails, true honky-tonk and some of the best, sharpest playing by his band, this is one of the finest Yoakam works ever put together. Tomorrow's Sounds Today was and is one of the most welcome discs released at the beginning of the 2000s, and it remains one of my very favorite Yoakam albums ever released.

of 10

South of Heaven, West of Hell

South of Heaven, West of Hell. Credit:

Yoakam poured his heart, soul and a lot of his own money into a movie project that unfortunately left him stung by critics and a whole lot poorer when he starred in and directed "South of Heaven, West of Hell" in 2000. Out of the strange, esoteric, sometimes confusing, often thought-provoking film came this soundtrack album of the same name, issued in 2001, which contains some of the finest music Yoakam ever wrote.

of 10

Population Me

Population Me. Credit:

Population Me proves that Yoakam only gets better with age. The album was Yoakam's first release on his new label imprint, Electrodisc, through his brand-new record label, Audium Records, in 2003. Population Me is a ten-track album and is only about 30 minutes long, but it does not come up short on value. It's pure entertainment.