Dwight Yoakam: Back to Buck (2007)

Dwight Yoakam shares memories of his friend and mentor, Buck Owens.

This is bonus material from an article originally published in the Nov. 19, 2007 issue of Country Weekly featuring Carrie Underwood on the cover.

In the Nov. 19 issue of Country Weekly, Dwight Yoakam talks about his relationship with Buck Owens and how he came to record his new album saluting his late friend, Dwight Sings Buck. Here, exclusively online are a few more of Dwight’s remembrances.

“I first heard ‘Act Naturally’ in 1963, and started hearing about this guy, Buck Owens. Everybody would talk about Buck Owens. ‘That’s Buck Owens.’ Just his name: Buck. Buck Owens. Wow. Then I heard ‘Tiger by the Tail.’ Even though I know I heard ‘Act Naturally’ first because it came out in ’63, ‘Tiger’ left the indelible imprint because it crossed to the pop charts and was so culturally specific. It was of the moment—Humble Gas had been running a commercial, ‘Put a tiger in your tank!’ They had a leaping tiger as the logo. They had a whole campaign, and if you filled up with gas so many times they even gave you a little tiger tail to tie onto your antenna. My dad owned a Texaco, so we were gas-station-conscious. I remember hearing that on a car radio [sings the intro from ‘Tiger by the Tail’]: I’ve … got … a … Years later, I wrote ‘Little Ways,’ on Hillbilly Deluxe, my second studio album, and dedicated it to the legacy of Buck’s music and his sound [sings intro from ‘Little Ways’]: You’ve … got … your … It was a big hit for me.”

“He once gave me a Cadillac. It was a coupe, and he had cut the top off and drove it around as a convertible, without making it a full convertible. I said, ‘Buck, there’s no top at all?’ He said, ‘Well, it doesn’t rain in Bakersfield.’ So I put a top on it. Years later I gave it back because he wanted to put it in a museum. So it’s back with his collection.”

“He went out on tour with me in the summer of ‘88, and we just had a ball. I remember one time I was sitting in the back [of the stage during soundcheck], playing on the drums, just fooling around. He turned at one point and looked at me, and he got a little concerned that I was actually going to do that during the show. He said, ‘Now, Dwight, where’s your drummer? He’s playing, right?’ I said, ‘Yes, he’s gonna play. I’m not gonna torment you with my drumming.’”

“I had never considered ever doing one of his songs, on record or live [while Buck was alive], because he was quite capable of still playing it and singing it. Not to denigrate anybody else’s recording of his material, because he loved when people cut his songs. He found it the most sincere form of flattery, which it is. But because of the personal nature of our relationship, I felt it would be disrespectful to record his material without him.”

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