Song Lyric Sunday: Buck Owens, “Streets of Bakersfield”

Jim says today’s theme is “user choice,” and after thinking about it, I decided on this song.

I’ve been on kind of a country music kick lately. I was lying in bed having my leg pumped the other day, and I decided that I wanted to hear Spotify play something than the same songs over and over. I decided, after trying some of the more modern music channels, that the best way for me to go was into country.

Today’s song is “The Streets Of Bakersfield,” a song written by Homer Joy and popularized by Buck Owens. Buck was a pioneer of “The Bakersfield Sound,” which, as Wikipedia tells us

is a sub-genre of country music developed in the mid-to-late 1950s in and around Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield was the first subgenre of country music significantly influenced by rock and roll, relying heavily on electric instrumentation and a strongly defined backbeat. It was also a reaction against the slickly produced, orchestra-laden Nashville sound, which was becoming popular in the late 1950s. The Bakersfield sound became one of the most popular and influential country genres of the 1960s, initiating a revival of honky-tonk music and influencing later country rock and outlaw country musicians.

Wynn Stewart pioneered the Bakersfield sound, while performing artists Buck Owens and Merle Haggard became two of the most successful artists of the original Bakersfield era while performing with The Buckaroos and The Strangers respectively. Other major Bakersfield country artists include Jean Shepard and Susan Raye.

Buck recorded this and issued it as a single in 1973, and the single went nowhere. In 1988, current Bakersfield artist Dwight Yoakam invited Buck to join him in a cover of the song, which was issued as a single. It reached #1 on both the US and Canadian country music charts. Here are both versions.

I came here looking for something
I couldn’t find anywhere else
Hey, I’m not trying to be nobody
Just want a chance to be myself

I’ve done a thousand miles of thumbin’
I’ve worn holes in both my heels
Trying to find me something better
On the streets of Bakersfield

You don’t know me, but you don’t like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Spent sometime in San Francisco
Spent a night there in the can
They threw this drunk man in my jail cell
Took fifteen dollars from that man
Left him my watch and my old house key
Don’t want folks thinkin’ that I’d steal
Then I thanked him as I was leaving, and
I headed for the streets of Bakersfield

You don’t know me, but you don’t like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

You don’t know me, but you don’t like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

How many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Source: Lyrics.com

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday (and Song of the Day) for October 9, 2022.

25 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Buck Owens, “Streets of Bakersfield”

  1. I’ve always liked Buck Owens. One of my first memories was when his guitar player Don Rich died. I first saw Owens on Hee Haw.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I liked it also… the humor was simple but that is what I liked about it. The music was really good. Roy Clark…has to be one of the best guitarist.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A Country Classic if you ask me. Love Buck, plenty of hits there and this one as you pointed out was not one of them. That whole album Dwight Sings Buck is great, so is most of Dwightโ€™s stuff. Great song!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi John – great choice … I loved listening to both … but prefer the second. Streets of Bakersfield obviously resonated with people … fun – thank you – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I grew up listening to Buck Owens. This is a great song and I loved the young Dwight Yoakam and the work he did with Buxk Owens. (Dwight looks a lot like my first husband when he was young and hopeful – the way I prefer to remember him.) Great song choice today. Another favorite of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I prefer the second one better, but in the video they sure look like they are doing some lip syncing. I’d rather not walk the streets of Bakersfield thank you very much. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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