In a 2002 interview with Larry King, Johnny Cash claimed that Dwight Yoakam was his favorite country singer. Coming from one of the pinnacle icons in mainstream country culture, the compliment stands as both praise and appraisal. Yoakam, however, wasn't always in such bright light. When he first started in Nashville during the early '80s, his new revival of honky-tonk country was rejected in favor of the trending pop-based variety. After leaving the scene that denied him, he ended up in Los Angeles where he shared bills with punk bands like the Blasters and X during the start of his West Coast career. Twenty-five million records of Yoakam's have sold since then, but even if you can't tell upon initially listening to a track like "Guitars Cadillacs," the ethic is historically ingrained: Yoakam is country's punk. JONATHAN MAGDALENO
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