A new chapter, and yet a homecoming -- that's a dichotomy, to be sure, but it's also an accurate way to describe Dwight Yoakam's Sept. 18 release, "3 Pears". It's his first new album since 2007's "Dwight Sings Buck", a tribute to the late Buck Owens, and his first collection of originals since 2005's "Blame the Vain", both on New West Records. For "3 Pears", the Grammy Award winner returns to Warner Bros. where, on Reprise/Warner, he previously appeared on the singles charts 35 times.
"3 Pears" includes a few covers, such as the Joe and Rose Lee Maphis-penned "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" alongside self-penned songs including the whimsical "Waterfall." The first single is "A Heart Like Mine," co-produced by Beck. "We're working that track to triple A, [noncommercial] and Americana [stations]," Warner Music Nashville VP of brand management Kelli Haywood says. "The albums on New West had some success, so we definitely wanted to continue to engage that audience. We're also delivering it as a full album to country radio, because a lot of Dwight fans are out there."
1. Why did you re-sign with Warner?
Warner made sense because of the legacy that we've had with each other. It's a true partnership. They've allowed me the space to create my art and the music I want to make, and they're willing to then plug it into that worldwide [distribution] reach I wouldn't get on my own.
2. You produced every track but two, which Beck co-produced. What prompted you to work with him?
We had bumped into each other a couple of times over the years, and I just happened to call and said, "Would you be interested in talking about co-producing?" He came over to my office, we sat down and sang some things, and he got it. That became the template for the rest of the album.
3. What inspired the title track?
There's a bit of nonsensical whimsy born of having watched the George Harrison documentary ["Living in the Material World"], and him talking about John Lennon and having a dalliance with LSD. One night in 1966, someone slipped them something in crazy London and they wandered off for a day-and-a-half and didn't know where they were. They cut to John and he had three big pairs of wraparound sunglasses in his coolest mod-1966 look. He had one pair on his forehead, one on his eyebrows and one down by his nose. He was looking at a person through each pair and laughing and making all these faces. I got a pad and started writing the song, saying, "All I want for you is happiness, all I have to give is nothing less." This album is really about the joy of music for me and, hopefully, it will be for the listener.
4. The lyric is "three pairs of glasses" and the album title is "3 Pears". Why?
There's no reason other than the fun. It was watching John Lennon onscreen -- just the nonsense of it, the tongue-in-cheekness of it, and maybe a little wink of the Beatles with Apple, because I was watching him when I wrote it. It was "pairs" obviously in the lyric, three pairs of these things, and I went, "Yeah, but it's "3 Pears" -- just for fun."
5. Kid Rock co-wrote "Take Hold of My Hand." What prompted that collaboration?
I've had the beginning of that song lying around, unfinished, for 20 years. Kid Rock and I have been threatening to do something together, and finally he was in town, so I drove out to his place. We hung out for the evening and finished it up. It was a joy to do and, hopefully, he is as proud of it as I am.
6. There's a competition at video platform Genero.tv to create an original clip for "Waterfall" and you'll choose the winner. What kind of videos do you expect to see?
"Waterfall" is its own animal. It goes from the sublimely nonsensical to the other part of what life is in the chorus. It shifts gears. [As for the entries], I'm open to whatever comes as a magic moment-someone bringing a point of view that's outside my own-and I'm hoping that I'm pleasantly surprised by the different interpretations.