Singer/Songwriter/Rocker/Grammy-Golden Globes-Academy award winner Ryan Bingham is about to release his 5th studio album, Fear and Saturday Night, on January 20th. In anticipation of the album release he gave a small and lucky crowd at the Grammy Museum a preview of the new material. The evening began with an interview where Bingham talked about why he started playing music, the origins of his “rough and ready” voice, his passion for songwriting and ended with him playing several songs off the new album.
Dressed in jeans, boots, a leather jacket and, of course a cowboy hat, Bingham appeared relaxed yet a bit nervous about talking about himself, but it quickly disappeared behind his sweet Texan drawl. He admitted that “all I ever wanted to do was be a cowboy and to rodeo.” Honestly, though, the singing rodeo star doesn’t seem to be a far cry from how we romanticize the all American cowboy, does it? He’s a completely self-taught musician that learned his craft on the road, and in fact hadn’t even played with a band prior to his debut album Mescalito in 2007.
How did he discover that he sang with such a grizzly voice? “I can’t sing very well…(and) the kind of places I played in, it was a cloud of smoke from the ceiling to the floor… and these places were loud…so I got to the point where I was shouting. I blew my voice out night after night in bars. It all came from not knowing how to sing.”
Songwriting was, and is, an outlet for Bingham to express the things in his life that he didn’t feel comfortable expressing to people. Digging back into his catalog you can feel the anguish, anger and heartbreak that he has experienced on this crazy road of life. For Fear and Saturday Night Bingham sought literal solitude; he rented a refurbished Airstream trailer in the Southern California mountains over several weeks to write, what ends up being a highly introspective 12-song album.
Though he wrestles with a tumultuous past on this album it is full of hope and beautiful tributes to his wife:
“The adventures of you and me will last forever/I’m not too sure about this world/ I hope someday it all comes together, baby/ Until it does, well, I’m sure glad you’re my girl.” – “Adventures of You and Me,” which he sang.
“If you ever call my name I’ll come running/ If your sorrow sings in pain, I’ll be there /If you ever feel a change in your weather/ Take shelter with me here.” – “Snow Falls in June,” which he sang.
Even a song (“Broken Heart Tattoos”) he imagined singing to a child he didn’t yet have when he wrote it, but was elated to share the news that he and his wife are now expecting! He sang it with all the eager and fearful emotion a first time Dad experiences (brace yourself, Ryan, for the rowdiest ride of your life to date!).
After a glimpse into this new album it’s apparent that it is a beautiful story that is from the heart, written with a sincerity that comes only from the actual messy living of life. “There’s no stopping a song once it starts…” Thank God, because we don’t want you to stop telling the every-man-story, Ryan!
You can stream Fear and Saturday Night here, and it will be available for purchase on January 20th.
Words & Photography: Anne-Marie Schiefer