Back in March of this year, Rick Moore wrote an article in American Songwriter about Dwight Yoakam’s song A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. Now this song holds a special place in my heart, along with a few other Yoakam songs, but I need to reveal something about myself for you to understand why. If you know me personally, you’ll appreciate how difficult it is for me to open up. Anyway, here goes…
In 1995 I walked away from a five year relationship. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. The details aren’t really necessary, broken hearts aren’t something new. Suffice it to say, I needed comfort for a long time to come.
That year, Yoakam released his album, “Gone” and the song Nothing* mirrored my emotions. The joy, confidence and enthusiasm for life fled from me just as I had fled from him. The chorus of Nothing sums it up nicely:
“Nothing but sorrow, nothing but pain / Nothing but memories that whisper your name / Nothing but sadness, nothing but fear / Nothing but silence is heard around here”
The harder I tried to move forward, to remain strong and validate my decision the more cold and distant I became. In the song Heart of Stone* the progression is illustrated:
“Memories have made its will grow tired and weak / Silently it turned from being bold to meek / ‘Til finally it gave in to a sad defeat / Aching more and more with every fragile beat”
The album Moore discussed in his article “This Time” was released in 1993. Because I had found such consolation in “Gone” I purchased the older album. Again, Yoakam seemed to see inside my pain and laid it out for mass consumption.
For example The Pocket of a Clown** describes how foolish we can sometimes feel as a result of loving someone:
“Inside the heartache of a fool / You’ll learn things they don’t teach in school / And lessons there can be real cruel / Inside the heartache of a fool”
But the crowning achievement of both albums is A Thousand Miles From Nowhere**. It talks of bruised memories, echoes of cruel words, and displacement without care.
“I’m a thousand miles from nowhere / Time don’t matter to me / ‘Cause I’m a thousand miles from nowhere / And there’s no place I want to be”
I’ve long since made peace with my broken heart and the man I left, but I still listen to these albums. That strange feeling you get when listening to songs that remind you of someone never bothers me. In my opinion, that’s the mark of a truly great song (album). It’s timeless. One day it might console you and fifteen years later it brings you peace.
* Written by Dwight Yoakam and Kostas
** Written by Dwight Yoakam