‘I came here looking for something I couldn’t find anywhere else’.
Note – The YouTube clips below all play in the UK. If corporate powers block them where you are i am sure you can find alternative clips for the songs.
Where you headed?
The answer is sometimes geographical, sometimes metaphorical and sometimes aspirational.
Down the road a piece.
Over the hills and far away.
Off these corkscrew hillbilly highways to the broad Freeway.
I might need two pair of shoes but I’m walking to New Orleans.
Kansas City – they got some pretty little women there and I’m gonna get me one.
High over Albuquerque on a jet to the Promised Land.
New York, New York – if I can make it there I can make it anywhere!
Sometimes you move for the most basic of reasons – to find a job that pays well.
Especially if you’ve grown up somewhere where the jobs are few and everyone treats you like a nobody.
Get yourself a good job that pays real folding green and you get a chance to be yourself.
Write your own story.
So, pack your grip (who did you ever know who had a trunk) and head off for the desert heat and the oilfields of the San Joaquin Valley.
Head out for the Streets of Bakersfield!
Now, if you’ve got a broad back and two strong arms and plenty of nerve there’s work a plenty in the Oil Fields.
Work a plenty.
Guys here from Oklahoma, Arkansas and The Appalachians.
Guess it’s a new migration.
And, when your days work is done, with a bulging wallet, you can take those sore muscles down to a Bar or Roadhouse where the beer flows freely and dive into that Whisky River any time you feel like it.
Now, you’ve come to drink and dance and it won’t be you who starts a fight .. but if it starts you ain’t gonna be hugging the wall.
Mister, I don’t care if you don’t like me.
Yea, I’ve spent a night or two in the can and I ain’t proud of everything I’ve done.
But, better not think that you can judge me – not unless you’ve walked these streets of Bakersfield.
No, turn the music up good and loud and let’s have ourselves a real fine time!
Drop a coin into The Jukebox and clear the floor.
Don’t want any of that weepy, air conditioned Nashville Sound.
No, something that’s got drive and bite.
Telecasters and Drums, Fiddle and Steel, enough to really shake a hard wood floor.
Songs that move and tell a story you know is true.
Don’t worry about tomorrow’s hangover – it’ll be worth it for the time we’ve had.
The Bakersfield Sound and no one is more Bakersfield than Buck Owens.
Buck and The Buckeroos – now that’s a blazin’ Band!
Embed from Getty Images
Hell, you could fill a Jukebox just with Buck Hits and dance without stoppin’ until the Sun comes up again.
‘Act Naturally’, ‘My Heart Skips a Beat’, ‘Tiger by the Tail’, ‘Together Again’, ‘Buckaroo’, ‘Waitin’ in the Welfare Line’, ‘Love’s Gonna Live Here’ and ‘Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass’.
Jimmy, the Bar Keep, who knows everything about Buck says he’s racked up 20 Number One Country Hits and he ain’t done yet.
Funny enough the Buck song that I punched more than any other on The Jukebox barely made it to the Charts under his own name.
Maybe by ’73 the caravan had passed Buck by.
Still, if I’ve got to pick one Buck song it’s always gonna be, ‘The Streets Of Bakersfield’.
That’s a true Workin’ Man’s Song!
I’ve spent a thousand miles a-thumbin’
I’ve worn blisters on my heels
Trying to find me something better on the streets of Bakersfield
You don’t know me but you don’t like me – you care less how I feel
But how many of you who sit and judge me ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?
The Streets of Bakersfield?
Sing it Buck.
Sing it good and loud!
Now, there’s quite a story about how the song came to be recorded.
It was written by Homer Joy in November 1972 when he came to Buck’s Bakersfield Studio hoping to record some of the songs he had written after he had churned out a Hank Williams tribute disc.
Except, after the Hank record was done he found that the Studio was blocked booked by Buck himself rehearsing for a tour.
Though Homer turned up every day at 8am ready to record he was told, day after day, ”Come back tomorrow’ and there was nothing for it but to grow even more blisters walking the streets of Bakersfield!
Eventually Homer’s patience snapped and the taken aback Studio Manager said:
‘OK, OK, play me one of these songs you think are so great and I’ll see what I can do’.
Fired up, Homer launched into a new song, written in sheer frustration at his current situation, ‘The Streets of Bakersfield’.
Now, some songs just hit you right between the eyes and this was one.
That very night Homer played the song to Buck and before you know it Buck had recorded it – featuring it on his 1973 Album, ‘Is Not It Amazing Gracie’.
But, though everyone recognised this was one damn fine song it didn’t make the wide world stand up and applaud.
So, it seemed Homer wouldn’t get the fat payday every struggling songwriter hopes is just around the corner if only a big star would record one of your songs.
Yet, as The Jukebox will never tire of saying:
‘A true message always gets through – sometime it just takes a while’.
And, this message, got through some 15 years later through the intervention of Jukebox favourite, Dwight Yoakam.Embed from Getty Images
Dwight, as a proper classicist, had always been a big fan of Buck’s music and had derived much inspiration from the straight to the heart and gut twang of the Bakersfield Sound.
He was therefore immensely pleased to learn that Buck approved of his sound and was keeping a watchful eye on his fledgling career.
Buck, by the late 80’s was seemingly more or less retired never having fully recovered from the tragic death of his right hand man, Don Rich.
The lightning and thunder that they had created together was gone.
But, talking with Dwight and listening to his sound convinced Buck that maybe, just maybe, there might be one more rumble and bolt yet.Embed from Getty Images
So, get in the Studio, crank up the voltage, have Pete Anderson pick that Tele fast and sweet, have those drums really kickin’, add some norteno accordion (no one better than Flaco Jimenez), swop charismatic vocals and I do believe we got ourselves a monster Hit!
That’ll be the 21st Number One for Buck and the very first for Dwight!
Alright Dwight! Thank You Buck!
Jukebox devotees will know I love my Boots and I gotta say my Dan Post Okeechobee Westerns got to do some serious stompin’ there!
The respect and admiration Dwight and Buck had for each other was real and enduring giving a fillip to both their careers.
Looking at the live clip below you can’t not be swept away by the sheer joy of music making.
Both of them being themselves and having a real fine time.
I came here looking for something …..
In memory of Buck Owens 1929-2006 and Homer Joy 1945-2012.
Buck Owens :
Buck was a great singles artist so I always have the 3 Volumes of his Capitol Singles covering the period 1957 to 1975 close at hand.
Satisfaction absolutely guaranteed!
Thank You Buck – always.
Check out Youtube for a fabulous live version featuring Dwight and Ry Cooder.