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Dwight Yoakam's 'Guitars, Cadillacs' Reappears After Legal Dispute - Saving Country Music

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Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. has finally returned to the digital world.

It was over a year ago that Dwight Yoakam’s iconic debut album disappeared from music streaming and download services amid a copyright dispute with the album’s original label, Warner Music Group. The first two singles, “Honky Tonk Man” and “Miner’s Prayer,” were pulled in February of 2021. Then on March 3rd, 2021, the entire album disappeared, leaving some Dwight Yoakam fans disgruntled, and those who held onto their old CDs or vinyl copies saying, “I told you so.”

It all started when Dwight Yoakam sued the Warner Music Group for failing to return the copyrights to his songs from the album per Section 203 of the Copyright Act. The much-argued provision of United States Copyright law originally enacted in 1976 states that after 35 years, original authors can cancel the copyright grants signed away to others, and reclaim them for themselves. “[They] have profited off of Mr. Yoakam’s artistry for decades and yet now refuses him his basic right of copyright recapture granted under the Copyright Act,” Dwight’s lawsuit stated.

Warner Music Group pulled the album claiming they didn’t want to earn additional royalties on disputed works. But as the lawsuit continued, lawyers for Yoakam took exception with the unavailability of the album, and made it part of their claims.

“Mr. Yoakam is unable to earn royalties on these works, his fans are unable to listen to these works, and his streaming count, a quantifier that directly impacts the known value of a song, is detrimentally impacted,” the lawsuit stated. “Even if Mr. Yoakam were able to reintroduce his works onto online streaming platforms, without Defendants’ cooperation, the stream count on each of the works would restart at zero, seriously harming the perceived value of the song.”

Then after nearly a year of the active lawsuit, it was revealed that the matter was finally resolved in February of this year, though exactly how it was resolved was left unclear.

As the legal filing stated, “Pursuant to Local Rule 40-2, Plaintiff Dwight Yoakam and Defendants Warner Records Inc. and Rhino Entertainment Company hereby give notice that they have reached an agreement in principle to settle this dispute. The parties jointly request that the Court vacate the hearing set for February 14, 2022, refrain from ruling on the parties’ respective motions for summary judgment…”

But still, there was no Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc. Even two months after the lawsuit resolution, the album was still unavailable. Then at midnight Eastern on April 15th, the album finally repopulated on all streaming services.

Though we still don’t have a clear picture on exactly what the resolution was, the album is now copyrighted to “Via Records, under exclusive license to Rhino Entertainment.” Dwight Yoakam is very likely the principal of Via Records, and the music was licensed to Rhino, which is a division of Warner Music, meaning Dwight likely did win custody of his copyrights, but perhaps to resolve the legal impasse, decided to continue working with Warner as the licensee.

As for the concern from the Yoakam lawsuit of “…the stream count on each of the works would restart at zero, seriously harming the perceived value of the song…” luckily that didn’t happen. All the original spin counts appear to be correct. The dates are a little funky though, with the original version of the album being attributed to 1984 as opposed to 1986, and the deluxe edition to 1986 as opposed to 2006.

Nonetheless, this important album in country music is available once again, and with the popularity of back catalogs these days, and how younger listeners often discover music through these streaming services, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. is an important album to have readily available.

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. wasn’t the only important album to disappear recently. Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-winning comeback record with Jack While, Van Lear Rose, was yanked from streaming services in March of 2021, and remains unavailable. No explanation has ever been publicly made as to why that title was pulled, and requests for comment have gone unanswered.

April 16, 2022 @ 9:20 am
I was listening yesterday and just had music on shuffle and Honky Tonk Man played and was happily surprised since I haven’t heard the album in so long.
April 16, 2022 @ 5:47 pm
It really is a great record
April 16, 2022 @ 6:55 pm
Yay, I’ve been waiting and not very patiently!! These songs have been sorely missed. They are too great to not be available for everyones’ listening pleasure. National treasures.
April 16, 2022 @ 8:03 pm
This issue got me off my ass and got me buying physical CDs again back when the albums first got pulled
April 16, 2022 @ 11:01 pm
I have seen and met Dwight Yokam at his concerts. He is an instrumental role model and truly one of the few remaining “old school” country artist. I am very happy that he has finally triumphed on this issue. He has proved once again, how corrupt the music industry is! DW’s music should never be hidden from his fans nor the public ear.
Linda stangle
April 17, 2022 @ 12:50 am
Dwight yoakam’s guitars cadillacs album is epic, a wrong was just made right! A thumbs up from millions of devoted fans.
April 17, 2022 @ 3:40 am
This whole thing was such a weird dispute; glad to see they could come to some agreement. “Guitars, Cadillacs” may just be one of the greatest debut albums ever recorded. Great to have this back, given the importance Dwight played in helping to shift mainstream country away from pop.
Paul Kagourtine
April 17, 2022 @ 7:49 am
I agree, it’s up there with Boston’s “Boston” for Best debut albums.
Dawn Shrum
April 17, 2022 @ 4:34 am
Dwight Yoakam is a true Country Music Legend. His determination, knowledge, & sheer gumption has kept him a legend. Artists of his calibre pour their heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears into their work. Sharing their creation(s) with others is necessary to continue to fuel their creativity. Keeping his music away from the public, is like the only boy in the neighborhood who owns a baseball, taking his ball & going home because he can’t change the rules to favor himself. Hurray for Dwight Yoakam now & always.
April 17, 2022 @ 7:33 am
“I told you three times already, the law’s on my side. I play cards with J.D. Shelnut, chief of PO-lice. So kiss my ass, you old bastard.”
From Slingblade
April 17, 2022 @ 8:28 am
We aint got no GD band Randy, we don’t need to practice!!!
Larry Barker
April 17, 2022 @ 8:39 am
I don’t understand what happened but anyway I guess some people can’t stand others to enjoy music something it makes him very very happy so they take it away no matter what they take it away and whether it means anything or not they don’t care maybe they wake up one day in this every changing world that’s getting bored all the time don’t take away something in a man creates and makes other people happy.
Sam Cody
April 17, 2022 @ 8:50 am
It was actually there all along. He just couldn’t see it through his hat… 😛
Tom H.
April 17, 2022 @ 8:28 pm
Still got my original vinyl!
April 18, 2022 @ 7:14 am
I saw him live about month ago, and it was incredible. Played for two and a half hours, and only played three songs that I didn’t know. He was always my favorite amongst the batch that came through the 80’s and early 90’s. If you have a chance to see him live this year, do yourself a favor and buy tickets.
April 18, 2022 @ 12:11 pm
I have it on vinyl and still reserve the right to say, “I told ya so.”
April 18, 2022 @ 4:53 pm
I saw Dwight open for the Grateful Dead back in the 90s. Truckin!
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