Did Dalton Domino Just Quit Music?

The fans of much-beloved Texas music songwriter Dalton Domino were disappointed to scroll through their social media feeds on Saturday (3-14) to see a missive from the Lubbock, TX native that seemed to imply he’s done with music. Finito. Game over.

“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you,”
Dalton posted along with the universally-recognized ‘That’s All Folks!’ graphic from the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. “The amount of memories I have made playing on a stage will last a life time. Only thing I got left to say is support the songwriters. Until next time friends. Whenever that time may be.”

Concerned fans already rattled by the mass cancellations due to the Coronavirus shared their appreciation and disappointment at the news, without a lot of clarification or context if it really meant it was all over for Dalton, or just over for now.

Dalton Domino is managed by the same guy that manages Wade Bowen, and Dalton’s last record, Songs From The Exile was released on Lightning Rod Records. Saving Country Music could have reached out to these respective parties or others, or to Dalton Domino himself for some clarification. But that feels like it would be a disrespect to the spirit and the mystery with which Dalton Domino has chosen to share this news.

The best way to digest Dalton’s message is just to understand that this is Dalton Domino. He’s always been a sort of unusual bird for the often straight-laced Texas music scene, with inner conflict clearly at work, often playing out in his highly-regarded songs over his three critically-acclaimed records.

Among his peers and many of the people in the Texas music business, the respect for Dalton as a songwriter is unquestionable. But finding his proper place has been somewhat of a struggle. He tried the big rocking stage show lineup, with the two lead guitar players flanking him like you commonly see from the headliners of the Texas music scene. He tried a more stripped down approach, working in more keys and acoustic guitar. Most recently Dalton Domino has been on a house show tour, just playing to intimate crowds in living rooms.

First and foremost, Dalton Domino is a songwriter, and that’s a career path where sometimes it takes decades of service before the deserved recognition is finally awarded. And beyond the struggle all songwriters face to find sustainable traction in their careers, or to calm the inner conflict to make it into an occupation, Dalton has had some personal struggles beyond that, including going to rehab in early 2019.

In his relatively short career, it’s almost like Dalton Domino has lived multiple lives. Even looking at photos of him over a period of time, Dalton can almost appear unrecognizable from a previous incarnation as he sheds previous personas in an attempt to discover his true self. Perhaps stepping away for a while is a way to aid that process. As he says in one of his signature songs called “Corners,” “But if I die I’m gonna die with me knowin’, who I was ain’t who I am.”

Have we heard the last from Dalton Domino? I wouldn’t make that bet. But his return and the nature of it should be of his choosing, and not due to pressure from fans or professionals in the music business with expectations that he may or may not be able to meet, let alone the expectations and pressures he puts on himself. Besides, in early February Domino also posted that he was planning a very limited tour schedule through September, and wanted to spend more time with his family. This latest message seems to coincide with that, even if it carries a more fatalistic tone.

And what better time to take a hiatus than now when the world is shutting down anyway, and gathering in groups has been deemed too dangerous by many?

So c’est la vie Dalton Domino, for now, and until, and as such. We’ll still be here.