Some of you (if anybody is still paying attention after my months-long hiatus) may remember a post I wrote eleventy-billion months ago on the ongoing list I keep with my friend Matthew of albums we consider perfect. That is, albums that have no filler, where every song is an essential piece of the whole that can’t be skipped.
Many of you contributed thoughts and comments on the subject so I thought I’d reopen the lines.
Here is an addition to my list:
As the heir apparent to Buck Owen’s Bakersfield Bounce (and a creepy turn as the abusive father in Slingblade), Yoakam has rightfully garnered praise from the entertainment world for his body of work. But Buenas Noches…is a standout masterpiece of classic country depression. Every song on this album is a delicious downer of lost love, squandered opportunites, revenge and murder.
Even the upbeat songs like “I Got You” are awash in sorrow. Yeah, the guy in the song is happy he has his girl, but he’s in debt up his ears, he has no job and the bank is taking away everything else. The listener gets the distinct feeling that the “I Got You to ease my pain” chorus is more a plea for the object of his affections not to desert him than a true “I don’t care about anything else as long as you’re with me” sentiment.
The hight point of the album, “Streets of Bakersfield”, is a first person narrative of the life of a couple of drifters that spend time in jail and steal to survive sung by Yoakam and the legendary Buck Owens himself. It’s a remarkable centerpiece to a brilliantly executed album of real country music, the kind that would make Lefty Frizzell proud.
As the album progresses, it does lighten up a bit and with “Send Me the Pillow” there even seems to be a glimmer of hope, but the underlying current of the song is a bit too close to stalking to be entirely comfortable. Yoakam closes with “Hold on to God”, a nice piece of gospel complete with reassurances of salvation in Jesus’s love. But with everything that came before, the fast pace of the track seems more a frantic warning to hang on with all of your might than a joyous invitation to everlasting peace. On this album, Satan is lurking around every corner.
Bring it on, ya’ll. What other objects of perfection are lurking in your music collections?