Ryan Bingham is an American singer-songwriter whose career started in the late 2000s. Some people call him a country musician. However, others see that as too limited a label because his music shows clear signs of folk, rock, blues, country, and other genres. Whatever the label, Bingham is a celebrated musician who has released numerous songs worth listening to.
Here are 10 of the best Ryan Bingham songs ever released:
10. “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So”
“Tell My Mother I Miss Her So” is the third song on Bingham’s second studio album Roadhouse Sun. Its lyrics see the singer describing some of his adventures around the world. Still, it is the infectious energy permeating the song that carries it.
9. “Hard Times”
Meanwhile, “Hard Times” comes from Bingham’s first studio album Mescalito. Chances are good interested individuals can guess its subject. What makes it interesting is that it is bleak in some places but not so bleak in others. “Hard Times” details an inescapable sense of poverty that crushes people when it isn’t grinding them down. Even so, it tells people to persevere while never being ashamed of where they came from.
8. “Bread & Water”
Speaking of which, “Bread & Water” is another song released on Mescalito. Strangely enough, the title doesn’t come up much in the song itself. For the most part, “Bread & Water” is about the places the viewpoint character has visited throughout the American South and Southwest, with some anecdotes tossed in here and there for much-needed flavoring. The title comes up in a line in which the viewpoint character talks about being stuck in a desert with neither bread to eat nor water to drink, which did not sound like a happy, fun time.
“Wolves” comes from a much more recent release. Specifically, it came out on American Love Song, which was released as Bingham’s sixth studio album in 2019. Indeed, “Wolves” served as the studio album’s lead single, though it doesn’t seem to have received widespread attention.
Regardless, wolves are animals with a great deal of symbolism packed into them. Generally speaking, humans have seen them as serious threats. For proof, look no further than the numerous stories in which wolves are either villains or monsters or a bit of both. In modern times, there has been a bit of a reevaluation, which is why wolves are now sometimes treated in a much more positive manner in pop culture.
Here, Bingham is using wolves in the traditional sense. His lyrics use them as metaphors for threats that people have to resist rather than run away from. We know this because Bingham took some inspiration for the song from the students who participated in the March For Our Lives despite the adults who questioned their integrity.
6. “The Other Side”
Strictly speaking, Mescalito wasn’t the start of Bingham’s music career. After all, he had already released material before he got a contract with a major record label. “The Other Side” comes from those times. It is the product of a younger, less experienced Bingham, but it is still worth listening to. That makes sense because Lost Highway Records signed him, meaning it had good reasons for doing so.
On a related note, “Sunrise” also came from the time before Bingham signed on with Lost Highway Records. As such, it has a lot of the same virtues as “The Other Side.” Here, the use of sunrise and other celestial imagery is quite casual. That makes sense because a good deal of the song’s likability comes from the massive streak of nonchalance running throughout its lyrics.
4. “Top Shelf Drug”
American Love Song was preceded by Fear and Saturday Night. As the story goes, Bingham wrote most of the songs while living in an isolated trailer with neither electricity nor cellphone coverage. He took inspiration from his troubled childhood, his mother’s death from alcoholism, and his father’s death from suicide.
Unsurprisingly, that means these aren’t the most cheerful of songs. “Top Shelf Drug” is no exception, even though it is sort of a love song. The viewpoint character describes his lover as a drug, which raises questions about exactly how he sees her.
3. “The Weary Kind”
There are a lot of people who will be most familiar with Bingham because of “The Weary Kind.” The song didn’t come out for the first time on one of his studio albums. Instead, Bingham and T Bone Burnett penned “The Weary Kind” for the 2009 movie Crazy Heart. It wasn’t until later that the song also came out on Junky Star.
In any case, “Weary Kind” got a huge amount of positive attention. In the end, that resulted in it claiming an Oscar, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, a Satellite Award, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award, which speaks volumes about its well-deserved dominance at the award shows.
2. “Southside of Heaven”
Reputedly, Bingham wrote “Southside of Heaven” when he was still living in a trailer house in the city of Stephenville, TX. Subsequently, he had the chance to release it on Mescalito, thus resulting in it becoming one of his more popular songs. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that “Southside of Heaven” played a critical role in boosting Bingham’s career.
“Hallelujah” is another song from Junky Star. Of course, the title is a religious phrase meant to express joy, adoration, and gratitude. However, “Hallelujah” is like so much of Bingham’s output by being much sadder and much more complicated than that. With that said, the complexity doesn’t detract from the song in any way. If anything, it adds to its charm wonderfully.
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