There aren’t many musicians who can say they’ve won a Grammy, a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the same song. But Ryan Bingham did just that, claiming the triple crown for “The Weary Kind,” written as the theme for the 2009 film Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges.
This month, Bingham releases his fourth studio record, Tomorrowland (Axter Bingham Records, $14), and he’s keeping things close to home, putting it out on his own label and co-producing it with Justin Stanley (Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow), all under the watchful eye of his wife, Anna Axter, who manages the whole operation.
A native of Hobbs, N.M., Bingham is a master of Americana, his cowboy hat as much an extension of his body as his acoustic guitar. But this album sees him exploring some slightly less dusty territory. For one: It features electric guitars. “I wanted something that was fun and rock ’n’ roll and loud and experimental — something that would be fun to play live on the road for the fans,” he says, in a voice that sounds just as much like Tom Waits as when he sings.
There’s a new maturity on display on Tomorrowland too. “Yeah, I’ve gotten older, and gotten married,” Bingham says. “I’m influenced by things that have happened in the past but, at the same time, you can’t hold onto that stuff forever. You gotta leave it behind and move on with your life.”
Although Bingham has been making his heartfelt, earnest brand of rock ’n’ roll for some time, the genre’s having something of a resurgence with the likes of the Black Keys and Jack White hitting it big. For an artist who has always operated outside of the gravitational pull of commercial pop music, that’s reassuring.
“It’s great to see that music coming back around, and I think the younger generations search for it,” he says. “I think people get tired of being force-fed the stuff on the radio. After a while, people can only take so much, and they’ll start looking in other places to find great music.”
Having scored a hit with Crazy Heart’s “The Weary Kind,” Ryan Bingham shares his favorite songs from film.
1. Bruce Springsteen, “Streets of Philadelphia” (Philadelphia)
2. Isaac Hayes, “Theme from Shaft” (Shaft)
3. Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” (Do the Right Thing)
4. Sherman Brothers, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (Mary Poppins)
5. The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind” (Fight Club)