"I'm Your Biggest Fan," the title track to Dallas Wayne's latest CD release, addresses the growing problem of fans who become uncomfortably obsessed with celebrities.
Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), Wayne's slender fame quotient doesn't require him to deal with such awkward encounters personally.
Nevertheless, unlike the Ashlee Simpsons and Paris Hiltons of this planet, Wayne is a natural born musical talent, which in a just world would make him enormously famous. Equipped with songwriting skills inspired by masters like Harlan Howard and a big and bold country voice, Wayne's world is the real deal, country music-wise.
And since he isn't exactly the pop culture flavor of the week, with the benefit of multiple producers and handlers at his disposal, he must consistently put a blue-collar work effort into each and every musical project.
It might then be assumed that Wayne is one of those self-reliant kinds of guys.
"Nah, not really," he admits. "It was just a matter of economics. I played very little electric guitar on there. Most of it was done by Donny Thompson of The Skeletons. But as a producer, I'm a pretty hands-on guy, and I've got all the arrangements and stuff in my head, so it's usually easier to do as much of it as possible. And Lou Whitney is a wonderful bass player and played quite a bit on the 'Big Thinkin'' record. But I wanted Lou behind the board, just mainly for expedience, just to get it done quickly."
It's obvious, after even a cursory listen to Wayne's recordings, that this man deeply loves his country music. Not surprisingly, the guy is none too thrilled with today's country music, however.
"The direction of country music in the last five or six years, probably, has really kind of...disappointed me, I guess is the best word for it," says the Springfield, Mo. native. "But if you look back through the history in country music, you'll find that it has always gone through cycles. The stuff that I'm writing and playing now sounds like stuff that I probably - looking back - might not have been too keen on 15, 20 years ago."
"At the time, I might have said, 'I prefer a little more roots-oriented things.' So the cycles are always there. Robbie Fulks and I were talking the other day - we did some gigs together. We were laughing about how songs that we heard back in the mid to late Eighties, how they sounded just a little too pop at that point. But listening to them now, they sound great. He brought up 'Lonely Women Make Good Lovers,' the old Bob Luman song that Steve Wariner had covered back in the late Eighties. And 'Pure Love' by Ronnie Milsap. Things like these songs just sounded a little too saccharine for me."
" But you listen to it now, and it's like, boy, those were good records! They were written the way a good country song should be written."
Just as time heals all wounds, one supposes that accumulated years can also heal perceptions (especially misperceptions) of songs.
"Everything falls victim to the 'flavor of the month' production values," Wayne explains. "There were DX7s, the Yamaha string/synth keyboard that was so prevalent, say, back in the late-Eighties. Because it was a new instrument, and it did a lot of things that were neat. But it wasn't hardcore enough. But before that, it was things like the Wurlitzer piano."
"Back in the Sixties, they brought in that Wurlitzer and it was, like, man, I could imagine traditionalists saying, 'That thing doesn't have any part at all in country music!' But if you listen to it today, it's like that was perfect for that tune. I think it's because we're all a product of what we grow up with, as well as what comes into vogue and is hot. I just hope that Syndrums don't come back any time soon," he concludes, only half-joking.
Even particular production values, which are judged as blasphemous upon first introduction, can eventually become like articles of the faith over time.
For instance, when strings were first used to supplement George Jones/Tammy Wynette records, as well as seminal Glen Campbell projects in the Seventies, this foreign element was scornfully viewed as nothing less than sinful sweetening.
But these days, modern outfits like Hem are calling those distinctive Campbell hits, for instance, some of their primary artistic inspirations.
"With some artists in some areas of the country, that's like the new oldies," Wayne muses. "It's like the new roots music. Where 10 years ago, people were digging into the Forties and Fifties, then it became the Fifties and Sixties, and it's become the Seventies and Eighties now. Everybody's looking for something that'll make them feel centered to what they used to listen to. In a lot of cases, if it's younger artists, it's something that their parents listened to, and they heard it at that time."
Wayne is a wonderful singer, as well as a multifaceted artist that has also dabbled in acting now and again. But songwriting will always be his primary vocation. And writing is a skill he is constantly learning and improving upon.