My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Dwight Yoakam – ‘Gone’

1995’s Gone was the result of Dwight experimenting with his sound and expanding is musical boundaries, but it marked his fall from commercial grace. Produced as before by Pete Anderson, there was a marked change in style to a more rock-influenced sound.

Lead single ‘Nothing’ (a rather boring soul-influenced ballad which Dwight wrote with then-hot songwriter Kostas) peaked at #20 – a disappointment, but it was the album’s only hit. It’s a song I really don’t like, with intrusive backing vocals and busy production, and it put me off buying the album at the time. It was a major mistake as a single choice, as country radio rarely touched Dwight afterwards.

Although they were better songs and closer to the style Dwight had developed over previous albums, the beaty title track and ‘Sorry You Asked?’ failed to make it into the top 50, and the attractively loping ‘Heart Of Stone’ (another Kostas co-write) didn’t chart at all. ‘Sorry You Asked?’ is the best of these, with its bright horn section and pained vocal as Dwight bends the ears of a sympathetic friend asking about his relationship breakup; had this been the first single the chart history might have been distinctly different. ‘Gone (That’ll Be Me)’ is a pretty good warning to a troublesome lover, but the production is a bit cluttered.

‘Don’t Be Sad’ is more typical Dwight, a sardonic response to an ex:

Don’t be sad cause you got what you wanted
You should be glad to know that I’m finally gone
Don’t feel bad or be disappointed
Cause you got what you wanted all along

This Much I Know’ is a more regretful, but resigned, response to the loss of love, with spot-on harmonies from Beth Anderson, and is one of the best tracks. I also enjoyed the cheerful accordion-led mid-tempo ‘Baby Why Not’, which has Joy Lynn White on harmonies and Dwight playing with his voice at the end trying out his deepest bass effect.

‘Never Hold You’ is over-produced rock with even more intrusive backing vocals than those on ‘Nothing’ (this time courtesy of rock duo The Rembrandts, best known for the Friends theme tune), although it is well written lyrically. ‘One More Night’ similarly flattens out the appeal of lyrics which look on the page as though they would come alive set to a Bakersfield beat but just sound boring weighed down by this flat tune and the heavy production.

The Rembrandts sing backing vocals with more restraint on ‘Near You’, a sweet love song with a rather old-fashioned if not very country feel.

Dwight wrote all the songs and directed all the videos for the singles alone, so all the choices made here must have been entirely Dwight’s. His acting side career was also starting to take off, and perhaps wider horizons were starting to distract his attention. I suppose one should applaud Dwight for not settling on his laurels, and choosing to make challenging musical choices, but on the whole I didn’t much care for this record. In the long run I believe it proved a massive misstep in terms of Dwight’s career. In a remarkable turnaround from the multi-platinum sales of This Time, Gone only achieved gold status, and he was never to regain his status as a mainstay of country radio, although he still had interesting music in his future.

Grade: C+

Used copies are available very cheaply.

3 responses to “Album Review: Dwight Yoakam – ‘Gone’

  1. Tom January 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    …dwight yoakam explains with the ten songs on this stellar album where modern country music (since hank williams) has come from and and how far it could venture and still be considered country.

    if you were told that ” heart of stone” was a hank classic, you wouldn’t probably think twice. “sorry you asked” not a johnny cash song? “don’t be sad” makes you wonder, if the king had not been in the room, when this was written. otis reading would probably have killed for a shot at “nothing” and “never hold you” is perhaps the closest that punk and country ever got together. and if you ever wondered, whether polka and country could be brought together, the answer is – well, “baby why not”?

    add lyrics of poetic quality and you might realise that this is one of the genre’s essential recordings. a milestone for dwight yoakam and country music – nothing less.

    then again, singling out a particular album from his catalog of music is really not an easy task – i usually fail miserably and just love ’em all.

  2. Melissa Ferguson August 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    As a Dwight Yoakum fan from the moment I heard his voice, I couldn’t disagree with you more about this album, and, in particular, the song “Nothing.” “Nothing” is a lovely, soulful departure from his signature sound and is anything but boring. It was a natural choice for a single and is still considered by many fans to be one of his best recordings.

  3. Lennon December 15, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    I love this album!!! I wish they would re-release it on 180 gram vinyl.

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