I came late to the Dwight Yoakam party. Despite the fact that he was making music from the very start that I would have loved had I bothered to listen, I’ll admit that I didn’t really pay attention him until a decade into his career.
And despite the fact that I think that he’s been pretty consistently great throughout his career and is probably in the conversation for best Country artist ever, I still think that I underrate him.
A prime example is “Miner’s Prayer,” an all-acoustic number from his first album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. It’s just Dwight and his guitar ace, Pete Anderson, playing off each other — the sound they make together had to have influenced Uncle Tupelo’s March 16-20, 1992 — as he sings:
When the whistle blows each morning
And I walk down in that cold, dark mine
I say a prayer to my dear Savior
Please let me see the sunshine one more time
When oh when will it be over
When will I lay these burdens down
And when I die, dear Lord in Heaven
Please take my soul from ‘neath that cold dark ground
With Dwight singing lyric in his high lonesome tenor using a melody that is so instantly familiar, you know you must have heard it before, you’d be excused if you assumed that “Miner’s Prayer” is a cover from the mid-1900s, if not earlier.
But it ain’t, it was a brand-new original from a brand-new major talent. I just didn’t know it at the time. But I eventually I got there.
“Miner’s Prayer” live at Farm Aid, 1986