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Buck Owens performs "Streets of Bakersfield", live on Concert.

Buck Owens performs "Streets of Bakersfield", live on Concert.

"Streets of Bakersfield" is a 1973 song written by Homer Joy and popularized by Buck Owens. In 1988, Owens recorded a duet version with country singer Dwight Yoakam, which became one of Yoakam's first No. 1 Hot Country Singles hits.

Buck Owens released a recording of the song in 1973, and while that version wasn't a major hit, the re-recording he did with Dwight Yoakam in 1988 (with slightly changed lyrics) reached #1 on the Billboard Country Music charts.

The song details the journey of the narrator, told in first person, to Bakersfield, saying "I came here looking for something | I couldn't find anywhere else | I don't want to be nobody | Just want a chance to be myself" and "I've done a thousand miles of thumbing | And I've wore blisters on my heels | trying to find me something better | here on the streets of Bakersfield". (Both of these stanzas came from Homer Joy's experience in Bakersfield leading up to him writing the song). The chorus (originally a poke at the studio producer) says, "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 | Ever walk the streets of Bakersfield?".

The second half of the song details an incident in San Francisco where the narrator is arrested and has to spend a night in jail, presumably for vagrancy. During the night that he was incarcerated, the police throw a drunk man in the narrator's jail cell. While he was passed out, the narrator takes $15 from the drunk man, leaving him his watch and his old house key, saying "I don't like folks thinking that I'd steal | Then I thanked him as he was sleeping | and I headed out for Bakersfield" (whether or not this was something that actually happened to Joy is unknown).

Buck Owens - Streets of Bakersfield lyrics

 

I came here lookin' for somethin'

I couldn't find anywhere else

Well, I don't want to be nobody,

Just want a chance to be myself.

 

I've done a thousand miles of thumbin',

Yes, I've worn blisters on my heels

Trying to find me something better

On the streets of Bakersfield.

 

[Chorus:]

You don't know me but you don't like me,

You say you care less how I feel

How many of you that sit and judge me

Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

 

[Instrumental]

 

Spent some time in San Francisco,

Spent a night there in the can

They threw this drunk man in my jail cell,

I took fifteen dollars from that man.

 

I left him my watch and my old house keys,

I don't like folks thinking that I'd steal

Then I thanked him as he was sleeping,

And I headed out for Bakersfield.

 

[Chorus:]

You don't know me but you don't like me,

You say you care less how I feel

How many of you that sit and judge me

Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield

 

How many of you that sit and judge me

Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield...



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