After an unsuccessful Nashville stint, he moved to L.A. and found favor among the “Cowpunk” contingent of the underground scene there. But in one of the biggest surprises in Country music history, his first major-label album — 1986’s Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. — was welcomed by Nashville and conservative Country radio as a much-needed change.
For four more albums, through 1993’s This Time, he scored with hit singles like “Honky Tonk Man” (a Horton song), “Little Sister” (a cover of the Elvis hit), “You’re the One” and “Streets of Bakersfield” (with Owens).Commercial Country has gone back to being bad again — poseurs offering Arena-Rock-wannabe guitar riffs, stage moves and tailgate-party lyrics — but Yoakam was slow to move over to the Americana scene, current home of other inventive ’80s Country musicians like Steve Earle and Rosanne Cash. However, with his 2012 3 Pears album, Yoakam finally made that move and has been warmly accepted.
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