Dwight Yoakam on What Country “Is and Ain’t”

Chris Shiflett may be a Foo Fighter , but more importantly, he’s a country/rockabilly/Americana music lover. His side project, Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants , is inspired by honky-tonk music, and he produces the Walking the Floor podcast he uses to interview the artists who influenced him.

Enter Dwight Yoakam. Last week, Shiflett was able to bring Yoakam in to talk everything from his sweat equity and sour disposition to some overnight mix sessions and psychedelic hillbilly stuff.

“To me, being in the music business was grabbing that guitar and slinging it like Elvis,” Yoakam told Shiflett.

Obviously, especially now, the business of the music business is so much more than that. But it sounds like Yoakam doesn’t concern himself with much of it or with trying to define the music anymore.

“I’m so far out of touch that I don’t know what is or ain’t,” he said.

Yoakam’s 1986 debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. featured the first of many of his Top 10 hits.

“I’m not in the thick of that anymore,” he said. “I think that we, as musicians, don’t really hear a lot of boundaries. We hear what we like. Is it altogether pure anymore? Whatever was? You were not allowed to have a kick drum onstage at the Opry up in through the ’60s. Do we want to go back to that? I don’t think so.”

Yoakam knows he’s blessed to be able to keep making the kind of country he wants to make.

“Be true to what you do, and I think the good only will rise to the top,” he said. “My job’s just to keep churning that butter.”

Yoakam is one of the presenters lined up for the CMT Artists of the Year special airing live on Tuesday (Dec. 3) at 8 p.m. ET on CMT and CMT.com.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.