Dwight Yoakam’s albums often drifted between some good time songs and heartbreak songs, but heartbreak songs have long been, for a large part, his forte. Songs like “Guitars, Cadillacs,” “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose,” “You’re the One” and “It Only Hurts When I Cry” showcased different takes on this heartbreak, but they
The album also has so much that is absent in modern “country” music: fiddle, dobro, steel guitar, pedal steel, lap steel (that’s a lot of steel!).
The album starts off with “Pocket of a Clown” which finds our narrator lamenting that it’s sad to hang around inside the pocket of a clown and the cruelness of being inside the heartache of a fool.
Second on the album is the Dwight classic “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” where our narrator sings of being in the middle of nowhere, not caring about time and not wanting to be anywhere else. As he laments the cruelness of the one who broke his heart, he sings with great pain of his own brokenness:
I've got bruises on my memory
I've got tear stains on my hands
And in the mirror there's a vision
Of what used to be a man
The heartache continues on “Home For Sale” where our narrator advertises that he is selling his home to escape the memories associated with the house. The pain in the singer’s voice is unmatched and shows the amazing vocal talent of Yoakam.
Far more space
Than the owner needs
A change in heart
Forces move away
Would like to keep
But just can't stay
The title track takes a different approach, finding our narrator attempting to get away from a relationship that causes him pain and heartache, but can’t find a way to stay away. He promises himself each time that it’s the last time he’ll play her game and endure the pain and let her hurt him, but continually admits that he fails and runs back to her.
On “Two Doors Down,” our narrator sings of a barroom where he goes to drink away his pain and loneliness and admitting that it won’t ever end. Much like “Home For Sale,” the pain in the singer’s voice is gut-wrenching.
“Ain’t That Lonely Yet” was the lead single from the album (and eventual Grammy winner for Best Male Country Performance) and finds Dwight singing about the one who’s coming back and wanting to rekindle a relationship, but he is unwilling, saying that after the pain she put him through, he’s not ready to take her back. Yoakam creates great imagery, throwing out these beautiful lines:
Once there was this
Spider in my bed
I got caught up in her web
Of love and lies
She spun her chains
Around my heart and soul
Never to let go
Oh, but I survived
Our narrator on “King of Fools” hasn’t yet found his way out of relationship, similar to our hero in the title track. Our narrator here also knows he’s a fool, but willingly continues to play the part of the fool and remains in a painful and lonely relationship.
“Fast as You” ups the tempo a bit and finds Yoakam hoping that one day soon he’ll be the one who breaks hearts and remains strong and unemotional to the pain he causes another:
Maybe someday I'll be strong
Maybe it won't be long
I'll be the one who's tough, yeah
You'll be the one who's got it rough
It won't be long
And maybe I'll be real strong
Maybe I'll do things right
Maybe I'll start tonight
You'll learn to cry like me, girl
Baby, let's just wait and see
Maybe I'll be fast as you
Maybe I'll break hearts too
But I think that you'll slow down
When your turn to hurt comes around
Maybe I'll break hearts
And be as fast as you, uh
In “Try Not to Look so Pretty,” Yoakam begs a woman that if she tries not to look so pretty, he won’t be the weak fool:
You walk in and steal my mind
Oh, but who gave you the right
To treat me like some useless thought
You throw away each night
“Wild Ride” is the only track where Dwight seems to take a break from the heartbreak and just have a damn good time. It’s a great tune to just roll down your windows, turn up the volume, and blast some real country music.
“Lonesome Roads” closes the album and finally finds our narrator resigning himself to loneliness:
Lonesome roads are the only kind I ever travel
Empty rooms are the only place I ever stay
I'm just a face out in the crowd that looks like trouble
Poor ol' worthless me is the only friend I ever made
This Time is just about as perfect of a heartbreak country album that you’ll ever find. Hell, it’s just a flat-out great country album in general. Let’s just go ahead and say it’s just damn good music. It may not be Yoakam having his most fun, but it’s the kind of album you expect real country music to be.