If you know of Ryan Bingham, you love Ryan Bingham. The singer, songwriter, and actor’s distinctive gravelly voice pulls music lovers in as they listen to any number of his heart-wrenchingly moving and inspiring hits. From his haunting renditions of Hallelujah; his unforgettable performance of the Crazy Heart hit, Weary Kind; or even Bingham’s more spirited hit, Southside of Heaven, the Yellowstone star has certainly established himself as a legendary music artist.
And, his turn as Walker, the singing cowboy with a tragic past on Yellowstone, has rocketed Bingham into television fame. The cowboy-ness Bingham gives Walker in Yellowstone is almost palpable. And, notes one of Bingham’s fellow musicians, this characteristic isn’t just Walker’s. Bingham is truly a cowboy at heart.
“I went up to him and I did that sort of fake punch you do sometimes to your buddies,” remembers Bob Dylan’s guitarist, Charlie Sexton of a 2017 encounter with Bingham during a Hurricane Harvey benefit in Austin, Texas.
Sexton remembers how he and Bingham were playing with a variety of other musicians at the 2017 Texas benefit. Sexton notes that he knew Ryan Bingham a little by then. So he wanted to say ‘hi’ as the musician waited for his turn to take the stage.
“And he didn’t flinch,” the guitarist remembers of the singer/songwriter/actor’s reaction to Sexton’s unusual greeting.
“I told him, ‘That’s why I like you, Ry,'” the guitarist adds. “You’re the real deal. You’re cowboy hard.’”
Ryan Bingham’s ‘Cowboy Hard’ Approach To His Art
Charlie Sexton goes on to note that even years later, the cowboy-ness Bingham brought with him at all times continued to be quite impressive. Ryan Bingham called on the Bob Dylan guitarist to produce his hit 2019 album, American Love Song. A project, Sexton says, that Bingham tackled with a certain sense of fierceness, dedication, and passion.
“The way he went about writing when we were recording,” Charlie Sexton recalls of working on the popular album with the Yellowstone star.
“It was a real bull-rider way where he just gets on it,” the musician recalls of the singer.
“Stays on it, (And) tries not to get thrown,” Sexton adds of Bingham’s focus on the project. “And just sees it through.”
Of course, it was all of this that Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan saw in the star years later. A characteristic that led to the showrunner tapping Bingham to play the role of Walker on the series. A role that, really, could only be meant for Bingham.
“I wrote [the movie] ‘Wind River’ listening to his song ‘Hallelujah’ on a loop,” Sheridan says of how Bingham’s version of the heart-wrenching folk-rock ballad inspired him on the film.
“To have him on ‘Yellowstone’ is a gift,” the Yellowstone showrunner adds of the star. “He is the graveled voice of this generation’s cowboys and poets.”