While out running errands the other day, I had the radio on satellite. I happened upon a familiar song by Dwight Yoakam titled “Little Ways”. It turns out the show was a broadcast of the top 25 hits for the last week of September in 1987. When the song ended, the announcer provided the following tidbit of trivia.
It seems that Kentucky born Dwight Yoakam first made his way to Nashville intending to become a star back in 1982. But at that time, Nashville was oriented more toward pop country music, as best represented in the soundtrack of the film “Urban Cowboy”. Thus, Yoakum’s distinctive style of “honky tonk” country music was not accepted by record executives, as they did not consider it to be marketable.
How did Yoakam respond? Did he throw in the towel and quit? Did he pack it in and go back home? Did he sell out by adapting his chosen style to suit others? No, he did none of these things. Instead, he packed up and moved to the west coast where his preferred style of country music had more receptivity. He knew that decades earlier, the “Bakersfield Sound” had been pioneered there by individuals like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
The result? Yoakam slowly bided his time, all the while honing his craft and perfecting his sound. By the late 1980s when he returned to Nashville, the winds of taste had changed, and the time was now ripe for a whole generation to embrace his brand of “honky tonk” or “hillbilly” music.
Since then, Yoakam has gone on to record more than 20 albums and compilations. Of these, five albums reached Billboard No. 1, twelve albums went gold, nine went platinum, and one (given this blog post, ironically titled “This Time”) even went triple-platinum. Among these albums, more than 30 singles have charted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. And along the way, Yoakam has sold over 30 million records!
It is plain to see that Dwight Yoakam when on to become one of the most successful country music artists of his or any other generation. This is no doubt due to his remaining true to who he was. But it is also true, at least in part, to his having learned to appreciate the importance of timing.
Speaking of learning, perhaps there is something you and I can glean from Dwight Yoakam here. Perhaps we too need to place a premium on remaining true to who we are. And equally as important, perhaps we also need to learn to appreciate the importance of timing.
Do you have some idea, concept, notion, product, or service that you would like to unleash upon the world? Have you written a song or an article or a book? Have you conceived of something as simple as a better mouse trap or as profound as a replacement for the internal combustion engine? If so, then good for you!
But have you also presented this to others only to get a lukewarm reception? If so, don’t be discouraged. It may well be that the concept itself is sound; but the timing is just not right. If such is the case, then whatever else you do, do not surrender your dreams! Rather, learn to bide your time and to hone your craft.
And as you do, keep trusting in the Lord, Who imbued you with whatever talents and skills and ideas and dreams and goals you have! After all, the Bible is full of people who attempted things once, only to fail, and had to wait until the timing was right in order to find success.
A pent up Noah had no success with the first bird (a raven) he released from the ark; but it was a different story with the second one (a dove). Even then, he had to release it three times, each a week apart, before he found success! Joseph got his hopes up about getting out of prison when Pharaoh’s cupbearer was released and restored; but it was to be a few more years before the time of his own release was to come.
Moses did not do very well in his first go around with the Egyptian authorities; but things turned out entirely differently the second time around. Naaman the Syrian saw no results from the first six times he dipped in the Jordan. But the seventh time around, he was completely cleansed!
On his first Missionary journey, the Apostle Paul had limited success. But on his second and third, he had more and more! Over time, he was even allowed to realize his dream of taking the Gospel to the very heart of the evil empire in Rome itself! The list goes on and on…
In each case, the initial timing was not right. But in each case, in time, it would be! Perhaps, then, this is part of what Solomon had in mind with his two observations from Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 when he said: “10I have seen the burden that God has laid upon the sons of men to occupy them. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
If God has burdened you with a passion designed to occupy your time on earth, stay faithful and pursue it! In His time, he will make something beautiful out of it! You can count on this. After all, you never know what tomorrow will hold. You never know how tastes might change, and how what is not received well today might instead be sought for tomorrow!
As God’s word teaches us, and as Dwight Yoakam’s life shows us, what is “pop”ular at present may well not be so in the future. What the world rejects on this day, it may well accept and embrace on the next. Happy is the person who understands this concept today! And successful tomorrow!