Fight For It

Jimmy Wayne’s back with a Top 5 hit, stories from his amazing childhood and a commitment to “just keep on going.”

Jimmy Wayne recently took time after taping a boxing workout for CMT Insider to sit down with CW and talk about his first new record in five years, his current Top 5 hit with, “Do You Believe Me Now,” and his very tough . . . yet character-building . . . early years. Here’s some of what Jimmy had to say. For more, go to the Sept. 8 issue of Country Weekly.

CW
Do you do any martial arts? Or just boxing?
JW
No, actually I started boxing when I was 13 years old. I did it because I was a very small guy and wanted to learn how to defend myself. I don’t think that way anymore. I kinda do it now because the exercise is so good—jumpin’ rope and running and pushups and things like that. It’s also stuff you can do while you’re on the road. It’s so easy to do on the road.
CW
Do you carry a heavy bag with you?
JW
No. I shadow box. You can do that by yourself in a mirror. And you can hold a weight, and it makes you a little more tired.
CW
Do any sparring?
JW
No. Absolutely not. I stopped sparring when I was 19 years old.
CW
Were you good?
JW
Yeah. Any time I get involved with something, I get really into it. So I was pretty good at it.
CW
I Love the new record. Your last one was out 2003? And the last single in 2005?
JW
Thanks. Exactly. “Paper Angels” was the last single we had out. Then the record label closed and moved over to Universal. You know what? Most people would probably have a little bitterness over somebody who dropped ‘em, but I’m very thankful for Luke Lewis and James Stroud lettin’ me go from there. They could have held me, and done nothing with me. I was so lucky to get out of that situation, and have Scott Borchetta sign me . . . the very next day. [Scott’s the head of Jimmy’s label, Valory Music. He signed Jimmy to his first deal at Dreamworks.]
I called him and said, “Scott.” He said, “Yeah, man, what’s up?” I said, “I’ve been dropped, I’m free.” He said, “Come home.” That was exactly his response. I was just thinkin’, “Thank God . . . thank God.”
CW
Is there a lot of pressure on you with this record because it’s been so long since the last one?
JW
I’m always competing with me. I listen to country radio, but I do not try to compete. I don’t really worry about what’s being played right now, because by the time my song’s recorded and it’s on an album, that might be over, and we’ll be onto something else that’s real hot. So I figure a person that’s always followin’ is always gonna be at the back of the line . . . because that’s what they’re doing, followin’. How do you become a leader? You lead. So I write songs or find songs that I seriously believe in and fight for it. I mean fight hard for it. Everybody else may be caught up in what’s going on right now, and they may not see the vision. But Scott’s never been that way. He’s so open-minded. He believes in an artist’s freedom.
He signed me based on a song “Sarah Smile” that everyone else had told me prior not to sing. “Do not sing that song in this town. You will ruin your chances of ever havin’ a career here.” I will never forget those words. And I sang that song for Scott Borchetta, and he said, “I see your vision. You can’t leave here until you’re signed with us.” And I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “This guy just offered me a record deal.”
CW
Based on your early life . . . you’re entitled to have some good timing and have things work out. You’re due to have a little positive Karma.
JW
I think like that, man. I think, “Am I feeling sorry for myself? No, I don’t feel that way. Do I feel self-righteous? No, I don’t feel that way either.” And I’m thinkin’, “Well, do I really deserve this?” And I’m like, man, sometimes you kinda feel like you deserve somethin’. . . for your work. So, this time around when people say, “Hey, man, I love that song.” I don’t drop my head and say, “Aw shucks. Thanks.” I say, “Thank you. Thank you. I worked hard.”
CW
“I Will” is another great song. That sentiment of loving someone so much you’ll give up your life for them . . . have you been there? In that situation?
JW
My first girlfriend, I probably loved her more than I did myself. I caught her with a co-worker, and it killed me. But after that, I met this girl at a grocery store in my hometown. And we fell in love and we dated 10 years. I lost her due to my dedication to what I was tryin’ to get involved in. Our careers weren’t parallel, our visions weren’t parallel. We grew up and grew apart. She said, “I would like to have a family and settle down. But you’ve got this dream that’s so far beyond any of our imaginations. In reality . . . is it really gonna come true?” And I was like, “Yes, it’s gonna come true. And I’m not gonna stop until it does.” But for a small town person . . . or for anybody, sometimes it’s like, “Come on, Jimmy. Is it really gonna come true? Be realistic.” I just told her, “I can’t settle down.” And finally she walked away one night. And I told said, “I think she’ll be back.” She’s married now and has a couple of kids.
CW
Got an ideal woman in mind? Or is it all about chemistry and who you happen to click with . . . no matter what you may have thought you wanted?
JW
I used to have that ideal woman in my mind. I used to think it was the blonde-haired, green-eyed girl that was just gonna rock my world. When I was younger, it was more about the physical. But as you get older and have a little more experience, you realize, “Do I really want this girl to be the mother of my kids?” You start lookin’ at the little things that matter. And when I see a woman kneel down and play with a kid, the child of some other family . . . when I see that, I think, “That’s the kind of mom I would want my wife to be. She loves that kid.”
And even things like . . . we may go over to a friend’s house to eat. She antes up and helps out in the kitchen. Just volunteer, “Aw, let me help you clean up the mess.” Certain girls will do that. Then there’s the other ones who would never pay any attention to the kids, never offered up any help . . . had all kinds of fakeness goin’ on. I’m just into the real deal.
“Where is your spiritual life? How do you treat your family? ‘Cause that’s probably how you’re gonna treat me in 10 years. If you treat your sister or your mom like crap, you’re probably gonna treat me like crap in 10 years.” So that’s what I look for, just someone who’s genuine. If they’re hot, well, that’s just a bonus.
CW
I love “No Good For Me.” How did that duet with Patty Loveless come about?
JW
You know what’s weird? Patty Loveless and I lived on the same street at different times in our lives, in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. I lived in the first house, she lived in the last house . . . on that same street. Our paths crossed again in Georgia. I went down and opened up a show for her. And I wanted to confirm that, ‘cause I’d heard it from somebody. I said, “Is it really true?” And she said, “Yes.” She’s a big name back in my home town. Everybody loves Patty Loveless in that Charlotte, Gastonia area. They love her. I grew up listening to her. My mom loves her. She couldn’t believe I have Patty on my record. She can’t believe. She still doesn’t believe it. She looks at it like this, “Maybe one day you’ll get there, Jimmy.” And when I say, “Mom, we did a duet together.” “There’s just no way, you ain’t there yet.”
But I got a call from Scott Borchetta and he said, “Jimmy, if there’s a song on your album that could be a duet, what song would it be?” And I said, “No Good For Me.” I had already thought about this song being a duet in the past for one reason. I said, “You know, that’s how the story went down. I said it to her.” But why should the song be about one person saying to the other, “You’re no good for me,” over and over? Why can’t the song be like, “You’re no good for me” and the other person comes back and says, “Well, you’re no good for me also.” So you’re not browbeating one person to death. So I said, “That would be the song that I’d pick.”
So my manager and Scott talked and they asked Patty if she’d do it. She wanted to hear the song, then she heard it and said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” I got a copy of that song and I’ve listened to it over and over. They sent me an mp3 and I was in my hotel room. It was late after a radio visit. I was like, “I can’t believe her vocal is on this song.” And it’s a song I wrote, and it means something to me. It’s like, there she is. I couldn’t believe it.
CW
Talk about the importance of not giving up in your life. You had a lot of chances to throw in the towel.
JW
When I was 14 years old. I went to 12 different schools, I moved around so much. [Jimmy lived in foster homes, a facility for delinquent boys and even on the street for a time].
I start thinkin’ about the lifestyle I grew up in and that really inspires me to keep going, because I never want to go back to that. It’s a scary place. I never want to go there. So I just keep on going.
CW
“Where You’re Goin’.” Is it a double-edged sword that you’ve got this past that you had to live through, which wasn’t a good thing . . . but it’s also just given you so much fodder for artistic expression?
JW
Man, it’s amazing. When you go out on the road and sing these songs, people can’t believe it. They’ll say, “I’m goin through that.” I played it for Scott and said, “Here. Listen to this.” And he couldn’t deny it.
This song, “Where You’re Going” . . . is simply batting one thousand at every single show we play. This woman came up the other day, draggin’ her son up to the merch. stand . . . just weeping like Mary, just crying. “That song means so much to me. My son has really had a hard time. He’s really trying to get out of a lifestyle he’s been in. It means so much to him.”
That song is so important to me. It’s so important to my career, I believe.
CW
It could be an anthem for your life.
JW
It is. And it can go both ways. Even if you’ve been a good person your whole life and you decide to turn bad, well, it’s not where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going. It could go either way. “You might have been a good person, you’re not now.” It’s time to move forward.
CW
Talk about John Oates.
JW
I’m a long-time fan of Hall & Oates. I was in New York City in a studio doing a satellite radio interview, singing “Sarah Smile,” which was the song I was told not to sing again. Darryl Hall and John Oates were in the hallway. I walked out and there they stood. And we talked. I started talkin’ to John Oates and we kinda hit it off. And he said, “Hey man, if you’re ever interested in coming out to Aspen, let’s write a song.” And I thought, “Man, that’s pretty cool.”
Two weeks later he calls me and we struck up a friendship. While he was in Nashville recently, I was in the studio recording “Where You’re Going” and he called and said, “Hey, let’s go get lunch.” And I said, “Hey, come over and sing on my record.” And he’s like, “Really?” And he came over. He got in the studio and stood there and sang. That was the strangest thing in the world. I was all up in his face with a camera, takin’ his picture! [he laughs]
It was funny because the comment he made, because we played him “Do You Believe Me Now,”—I’ll never forget this because I’m gonna call him on it—he says, “why didn’t you have me sing on the hit?” And I was like, “I’m gonna remind you of this, when this one’s a hit.”
CW
There’s a line in “Where You’re Goin’” . . . ”it’s not who you were back then, it’s who you are this moment.” Are you pretty happy with who you are this moment?
JW
Yes. I feel that way. I look at myself now and people congratulate me about what’s goin’ on. I can’t even . . . I don’t know how to feel it. It’s so great right now, I don’t know how to feel that way. I can’ t express it, without making it sound cheesy. But I’m really happy.
CW
Anything you’d love to happen in the next few months?
JW
I would like to get on a tour. Yeah. And on a personal note, I’d just like to make sure I don’t get off track. Make sure my life is fully focused ahead. That’s what I want to live like. Hopefully I can maintain that. I’m just at a very good place. It probably couldn’t get any better.

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