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50 Greatest City, State, And Town Songs – #15: “Streets Of Bakersfield” by Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens

April 19, 2008

Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room50 Greatest City, State, and Town Songs: #15

“Streets Of Bakersfield” by Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens

Album: “Buenes Noches From A Lonely Room”

Chart Peak: #1

City, State, or Town: Bakersfield, California

Talk to any hard core country music fan and they’ll tell you it’s no mystery that Dwight Yoakam’s biggest influence and one of his closest musical friends was the great Buck Owens. In 1988 Dwight fulfilled a dream and teamed up with Owens in a song dedicated to the Bakersfield origin of Buck Owens that helped produce the alternate country sound that has made the likes of Dwight, Merle and even Gary Allan as successful as they are today. The song has the two singers tell the story of a man through his point of view as he deals with pre-judgement and setbacks in California.

The song begins with Dwight and works Buck in rather quickly and smoothly. The singers help to tell the story of a man who is being pre-judged and hated for who he is and his tactics of living in Bakersfield. His story begins with him explaining through Dwight how he originally arrived in the California country town looking for something he couldn’t find anywhere else. This is presumably musical success as he explains that he also sought a place where he could just do what he wanted to do and be himself. When Buck comes in he reveals that the man has been walking the streets of Bakersfield for years trying to find that something.

The second verse is more centered around the man’s character. He reveals a time in San Francisco when he spent a night in jail with a drunk man. He continues his reminiscent explanation by telling how he took $15 and in exchange left his watch and the key to his house as a way of avoiding stealing. The money was very little, but apparently enough to help him in Bakersfield. The chorus brings the whole message together after each part of the story as the two singers team together to speak through the man against the pre-judgement of people who seek something more in the California streets. The man basically spaces a point and reveals his story is meant to be told to those people by calling them out, saying that they may not agree with his lifestyle of his actions but how many can say that they’ve experienced what he is going through on the streets of Bakersfield?

This song was a huge hit and one of the most popular songs by both Buck and Dwight securing them in country music’s A list for the remainder of their career. It gave Buck a chance to call attention to the town that he made so famous with his persona alone and it gave Dwight the opportunity to show his respect for that same town and to team up with one of the pioneers of the Bakersfield sound of country music and one of his idols. This song truly put Bakersfield on the map and allowed a totally new understanding of the struggles and misunderstanding that people go through when trying to find that one thing that will let them be themselves in this crazy world. When people think Bakersfield they think two things, Buck Owens and this great duet that has become a timeless classic.


Location of Bakersfield, California

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