Los Angeles, CA – Over the last two decades, lovers of music have grown infinitely enamored with the trend of ‘storytelling’, placing the songwriter center-stage to explain the inspiration and stories behind their most popular lyrics. Some might reveal that their song was merely a loose interpretation, inspired in essence by an idea, a person or experience from their past. Others might present lyrics as a literal chronicling of an actual event. The insight might also reveal that the song included actual names and places, serving as a very specific retelling of an actual event. A good example of the latter came to light during the recent closing of a local Cadillac dealership where famed country singer (and part-time actor) Dwight Yoakam was the guest of honor.
“Dwight Yoakam is a modern country music icon,” shares dealership GM Bochephus Godfrey. “It’s been thirty years-or-more since he originally wandered onto our lot, a guitar slung over his shoulder, looking for a used Caddy to get him back home. At the time, we had no idea that the experience would inspire his song.”
In 1986, Dwight Yoakam released his iconic single ‘Guitars, Cadillacs & Hillbilly Music’, which detailed a heartbroken man’s decision to leave Tinseltown due to a break-up and the absence of “the only things that keep him hanging on”. The aforementioned “things” are, of course, the three items detailed in the song itself.
But Bochephus Godfrey is able to shed even more light on the song’s origins, sharing, “At the time, we were still weathering the storm of an earlier promotion gone wrong. About six months prior, we had hosted a Country Western event, where we had several acts performing an all-day concert designed to draw more customers to the dealership. In terms of genres, the musical talent ranged from traditional Country & Western to Bluegrass, and even more rural Hillbilly stylings. But the latter got a little bit out of hand, with our…’less controlled’ guests running wild, smashing vehicles, and costing the dealership upward of $75,000 in damages. Thus, we had no choice but to institute our longstanding ‘No Guitars. No Hillbilly Music” rule.”
But Dwight Yoakam didn’t know this when he wandered onto that lot in the mid-1980’s, guitar in-hand. And while the sales staff was keen in pointing out the ‘No Guitars’ rule, they were also helpful in finding him an affordable used vehicle, which helped him to get back home to Pikeville, Kentucky – where he would go on to write the song that would make him famous.
“So, why wouldn’t we invite him back for our closing,” asked Godfrey, hypothetically. “A celebrity appearance is always a great way to draw in traffic, and it just seemed appropriate to ask our most famous former customer. Unfortunately, we still had to stick to our guns on the rule.” In turn, Mr. Yoakam would be on-hand in person only, with no expectation of a performance.
The Lemon had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Yoakam, who graciously accepted the invitation, and was on-hand during the dealership’s last weekend of operation. Truth be told, the musical icon had little to say, his eyes scanning the dealership’s now-famous signs depicting the ban on music. Remembering that day from so long ago, his gaze shifted to the “Going out of Business” sign. He stares silently, knowing that all the things he loved were no longer there.
“Guitars, Cadillacs & Hillbilly music,” he muttered, a single tear rolling down his face. “The only things that keep me going on.”
(Editor’s Note: Dwight Yoakam has now been missing for 27 days. If you know his whereabouts, or are as concerned for his personal safety as we are, please contact the Los Angeles Police Department.)