Dwight Yoakam is 63 years old. For GQ, Alex Pappademas attempts to have a conversation with him, but seems to end up as the audience to a man whose frenetic and continuous musical connection-making acts as the perfect defense against meaningful human connection.
You ask a question, then he’s off, parkouring from subject to subject, and before you know it Dwight Yoakam is saying things like “I would even point to the Spanish-American War” or “And that begins, to my way of thinking, with Northern and Western Europe throwing off the yoke of theocracy, and the writings of John Calvin, and Martin Luther, going back centuries earlier, and that’s what leads us…” in response to a question along the lines of “So how long have you had this office space?”
At one point our conversation spirals from Merle Haggard to the Maddox Brothers and Rose to a particular shot from the Amazon Prime series Patriot to the underdiscussed formal impact of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio on the modern novel to David Bowie. Dwight met Bowie in the ’90s and asked him about Elvis Presley, because Bowie and Elvis share a birthday—which is the kind of thing Dwight knows—and Bowie told him that six months before Elvis’s death, the King had called Bowie and asked him to produce his next record, because apparently Elvis loved “Golden Years.” Bowie said he’d do it; then every time he tried to call Elvis after that, some Memphis Mafia guy would pick up and say, “He can’t come to the phone right now, man.” Dwight’s never forgotten anything and everything reminds him of something, is the point. Sometimes it’s like talking to Doctor Manhattan.
Whether this is intentional or not, it’s a good way of avoiding giving too much away.