Jimmy Wayne’s Sophomore Set Worth the Wait
Jimmy Wayne is proving to be country music's comeback kid. As the title track from his August 26 release, 'Do You Believe Me Now' roars into the Top Five of Billboard's country singles chart, fans are rediscovering the soulful voice and intuitive songwriting that made his self-titled debut a hit when he first burst on the scene.
Wayne is currently PEOPLE magazine Country Special's "Hot Guy of the Month." His new video, 'Do You Believe Me Now,' is one of the most watched country clips and the single continues to climb as positive reviews for the album pour in. He admits it's all sweeter the second time around.
Wayne's 2003 Dreamworks Nashville debut spawned four hits: 'I Love You This Much,' 'Paper Angels,' 'Stay Gone' and 'You Are.' But as often happens in the music business, his record label closed and his upward career trajectory stalled until music industry veteran Scott Borchetta signed him to the new Valory Music Co. label and paved the way for his comeback. Another young artist might have given up and gone home after his first record deal disappeared, but not Jimmy Wayne.
"There's absolutely nothing in this business that could make me just give up, because it's already a gift to be able to be here and do this," he says, sitting in the living room of his beautiful Nashville home, surrounded by such typical musician bachelor accoutrements as arcade games and guitars.
"It's not like we've got to do it," he says of being in the music business. "We're very lucky people. So if you have a bad day in the music business, consider that a really good day [because there's] a person standing at the textile mill machine or the guy that's really struggling to feed his family. So a bad day in the music business is really a vacation for most people."
The North Carolina born singer/songwriter embraced the opportunity to make a new record, and the result is one of the most talked about projects on Nashville's famed Music Row. "I didn't want to copy the first album," he says of his approach to his long-awaited sophomore set. "I start thinking, 'This thing needs some energy, just to show that side of me,' so the record that I put together now only has two ballads on it and that's it. Everything else is up-tempo. It's definitely a change."
The album features such upbeat anthems as 'I Didn't Come Here to Lose,' an ode to his perseverance in the music biz, and 'Where You're Going,' an autobiographical number about overcoming your past to build a bright future that features a guest vocal by John Oates of Hall & Oates fame. The new album also includes new versions of two hits from his debut -- 'I Love You This Much' and 'Stay Gone.'
The new CD also includes a gorgeous duet with Patty Loveless on the poignant ballad 'No Good for Me.' Wayne co-wrote the song with Billy Kirsch and says it was inspired by an ex-girlfriend. "It's probably one of the hardest relationships I'd ever been in. It was just so much maintenance to keep up. You could not repair one thing fast enough before something else went wrong. It was like we kept replacing it and patching it and patching it and finally it just burst," he says comparing the relationship to a broken pipe that just couldn't be fixed. "I remember walking out of the house and I said, 'You know, it really comes down to this: At the end of the day, I'm no good for you and you're no good for me. We just aren't good for each other. We just don't work.'"
That willingness to pour his heart and soul into his music has earned Wayne a devoted following who appreciate the honesty and vulnerability in his lyrics. In the wake of his first album, his story became widely known. He'd endured a painful childhood filled with violence and abuse. He was shuffled in and out of foster homes and group homes before finally just running away and living on the streets. An elderly couple, The Costners, took him in and changed his life. He went to college and worked as a prison guard in North Carolina before moving to Nashville to pursue his musical dreams.
Many of the songs on his debut album, such as 'I Love You This Much,' were autobiographical looks at his painful past. Though the new project is much more upbeat, Wayne continues to share what he learned from his tumultuous childhood in such songs as 'Where You're Going' and 'Kerosene Kid.' "When you smell kerosene on a kid at school, you just know that they have a hard life because usually the kids who heat by a kerosene heater are poor kids," he says. "They live in trailers or old houses or whatever and that's their only way of staying warm is to either use a kerosene or a wood heater. These kids were made fun of because they smelled like kerosene. This song is about walking home from a store with a jug of kerosene because mom sent us to the store. It was so cold, you would have to stop every few minutes to put your hands in your pocket or warm them up. I remember seeing a kid ride by from school and he'd kind of laugh. You never forget that and that's where the song starts but [the chorus says] 'kerosene kid, don't let them get you down, keep your head up and stay proud.'"
Wayne has devoted a great deal of time to working with disadvantaged youth. In 2005, he became the youngest person ever to be honored by the Salvation Army for his charity work when he was presented the William Booth Award. It's the only award the young artist displays in his home. Instead of touting his music industry accomplishments, Wayne's walls are adorned with what matters most to him -- letters from fans telling how his music has inspired them and helped them cope with their own challenges in life.
"Ultimately my thing is to try to help as many people as I could possibly help before I die," he says. "There's something about music. . . It could change a life."
These days he also wants to lighten up and enjoy this new chapter in his life and career. "On my first album, I missed the opportunity to enjoy the success," he says. "I really was so caught up in saying 'I've got to focus on the next step.' I was always focusing on the next step. I made a huge mistake by not enjoying and savoring the moment from the first record and I've got to be honest, I'm definitely more thankful this time around."