On “Yellowstone,” Ryan Bingham plays everyone’s favorite rogue, Walker, the reluctant ranch hand. But Bingham is also an accomplished musician who has released six studio albums so far.
In fact, Bingham released American Love Song, his most recent studio album, on his own label, Axster Bingham Records. That’s the Los Angeles-based record label that he founded with his wife Anna Axster, with whom he has three children.
“This record is all about… these different pieces and moving parts of this country,” Bingham told Rolling Stone in 2019 . “It’s about growing up in all these different parts of America and experiencing all these different cultures… [It’s] a bit of a love song and love story about getting through it all.”
So today, on Bingham’s birthday, here is a partial round-up of his best moments, on “Yellowstone” and off the small screen.
Ryan Bingham Wins Major Awards for ‘Crazy Heart’ Soundtrack
Bingham collaborated with producer T Bone Burnett on the soundtrack for the movie “Crazy Heart,” contributing two of his own songs to the effort, “I Don’t Know” and “The Weary Kind.” In 2010, the latter song went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, an Oscar for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
However, Bingham told The Bluegrass Situation in 2019 that he was going through a rough patch as he won those awards. When “Crazy Heart” hit theaters, his mother had just died (from alcoholism). And his father would die around the time by suicide. It is only recently, years later, that Bingham has been able to truly appreciate what those wins meant. He says he has now reached a better understanding of how much “The Weary Kind” means to people.
“I’ve been playing [the song] a lot more these days,” Bingham said. “I’ve managed to deal with my family stuff, so it’s been easier to play that song for people. It’s still very emotional for me, but it’s different now. I think what brought it back for me was hearing stories from all these fans who have their own experiences and tell me how they relate to the song, how it’s helped them deal with certain things. That was really inspiring. And now I sing it because I realize how much it means to people who come to the shows.”
Ryan Bingham Joins Cast of ‘Yellowstone’
In 2018, Bingham began appearing on “Yellowstone” as Walker. And for the next three years, he would charm his way onto a regular role in the series.
“Originally, when I was approached about the show, it was mainly about the music,” Bingham explained on the Paramount Network’s Artist Spotlight featurette. “I had met Taylor. We hit it off, and kind of became friends. And Taylor found out that I come from a ranching family in New Mexico, and grew up riding horses and things like that… And he was like, ‘Man, I want you to come in and read for something.’”
Who could pick one favorite out of Walker’s many iconoclastic moments on “Yellowstone”? There were the scenes in which he wooed Beth (Kelly Reilly), including the scene outside the barn, where they commiserated over being stuck on the ranch and then shared a kiss. There were the scenes in which he battled Rip (Cole Hauser), who has clearly wanted to kill Walker numerous times, that showcased how wily Walker could be.
But the best Walker scenes probably happened after his return in Season 3, when an incredulous Rip and Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) discovered Walker still alive and singing at a bar in town. After they dragged Walker back to the ranch, he got his old job back and took on a more significant role on the ranch. That included assisting in a revenge killing of one of Roarke’s (Josh Holloway) men.
Ryan Bingham Contributes Music to ‘Yellowstone’ Soundtrack
Besides acting in the series, Bingham has also contributed several songs to the “Yellowstone” soundtrack through the seasons.
“Sometimes it can be a bit difficult because the songs are so personal to me,” Bingham said of incorporating his songwriting as well as his acting talents into the show. “So to take that stuff and put it into a TV show and into the hands of this character puts me in a vulnerable state as well. You know, because I have to have a certain amount of trust in the show and with Taylor’s writing and all of that.”
It remains to be seen what Season 4 holds for Bingham, on the soundtrack and onscreen. But Bingham has already hinted that his character survives, observing – correctly – that it’s not so easy to get rid of Walker. He is one tough cowboy.
Bingham Launches Own Music Festival, The Western
In 2019, Bingham partnered with Live Nation to launch The Western Music Festival.
The inaugural event took place in Luckenbach, Texas. Initial performers included Colter Wall, Old 97’s, Jamestown Revival, The Wild Feathers, Jesse Dayton, Jai Malano and The Americans, according to Saving Country Music.
Unfortunately, festival organizers had to cancel the event in 2020, when it was scheduled to take place in June, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The festival’s website holds out hope that a “very special lineup” is on its way for 2021. But as of March 31, no new acts had been announced. It’s still early, however. So Bingham fans can cross their fingers for more news this summer.