20 Questions With Jimmy Wayne

North Carolina Native Talks About Vacations and the Cowardly Lion

Editors Note: Jimmy Wayne will appear on CMT Most Wanted Live on Saturday (March 14) at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. Newcomer Mindy Smith (“Jolene”) will also visit the set.

As a songwriter, Jimmy Wayne has made it a point to include his life story in his music. Although hit songs like “Stay Gone” and “I Love You This Much” deal with heavy topics, the North Carolina native also has a lighter side. Fielding questions from fans, he talks about going on stage in his underwear, the smell of cinnamon and why he identifies with the Cowardly Lion.

1. I’ve seen footage of you performing “Sara Smile,” which I know is the song that got you your record deal, and it was absolutely awesome. Will you ever record the song for a future album? Why do you like that song so much?

Yes, I will. I love that song because it gives me an opportunity to venture vocally places that I don’t otherwise go. I’m also just a true fan of Hall & Oates. In a nutshell, the song title caught my eye because one of my foster moms was named Sara.

2. I think it’s wonderful you’re from North Carolina, just like I am. I was born and raised here and sincerely think it’s the most special place in the world to live. What do you like best about North Carolina — and why?

The scenery is incredible! There’s always something new to discover. For example, walking the creek line in Crowder’s Mountain. I can’t get enough of the Southern food, and there’s plenty of it there. Ultimately, I love the people. They are very caring and warm.

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why there?

I haven’t traveled all over the world yet, but I will. So far, there’s been no place like home (in North Carolina). Familiarity breeds comfort.

4. How did you cope with not seeing your father when you were little? I don’t see my dad that often. I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

In my situation, I really didn’t have one, so it was almost like you don’t miss something you never really had. My advice to you is to take the high road and do everything possible to stay in touch with your dad regardless of how much he might push you away.

5. How cathartic is songwriting for you? For example, did you find that writing “I Love You This Much” helped you personally to deal with your strained relationship with your father?

Writing is a therapeutic outlet. Sometimes it’s like priming the well, a very deep well. Writing songs helps me express my feelings, good and bad, and helps me to move forward. I recommend writing for everyone as a daily exercise. You don’t have to be a professional for this to work for you.

6. Who is that boy in your video “I Love You This Much”? He looks a lot like you. Is he any relation?

His name is Tripp. A modeling agency found him through my hair stylist, who recommended him for the video. Speaking of Tripp, I was really tripping when I saw him. He looks very much like me at that age.

7. “I Love You This Much” strikes people to the bone because it reminds us of the love that’s waiting for us in Jesus. Did you have any hesitation in using Jesus on the cross in your video? I believe you did the right thing in doing so.

I didn’t hesitate for one second. Absolutely not! I wrote the song around that experience of Jesus. I appreciate the fact that you and many people have connected with the message.

8. If you got to meet someone either dead or alive, who would it be — and why?

Jesus. Enough said.

9. You have talked about the elderly couple that took you in and changed your life back in your high school days. How are they in your life today?

Unfortunately, they are both deceased but remain in my heart each and every day. I talk about them at every show I do.

10. Is there any one charity that you would love to give back to?

Foster care and foster homes.

11. I would have loved to see you on tour with Lonestar since you are my two favorite acts in country music. What was your most memorable moment or story about being on tour with Lonestar?

At one of the shows, they put their merchandise guy in a rabbit costume while I was singing my song called “The Rabbit,” which is a serious subject matter. I couldn’t even finish the song, I was laughing so hard. The Lonestar guys were hiding behind the curtain on the side of the state laughing their heads off! So in return, I came out on stage in my underwear, cowboy boots and a T-shirt during their set. They have tried tricking me into coming out like that again on several occasions, but there’s no way! We’ve had so much fun on this tour. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. They are a great bunch of guys.

12. How do you relax after a show? I know you must be hyped up and excited after singing all your wonderful songs and having all your fun with your fans.

I enjoy getting on the bus, getting in comfortable clothes and watching the History Channel.

13. What is the weirdest thing you ever had to autograph?

I’ve been asked to sign certain body parts, but I respectfully declined.

14. Who is your favorite country music singer today?

I have many favorite singers. Female? It would be Patty Loveless. She’s as real as it gets. Male? Alan Jackson. He’s also as real as it gets and writes his own music. He’s very consistent. In my book, he’s the modern-day Hank Williams.

15. Where’s your favorite vacation spot, and why?

I don’t have the opportunity to take vacations, but if I do in the future, I want to go somewhere warm and tropical. In October, I had the opportunity to appear in an ABC Family Channel show Switched, and I got to switch lives with a trainer-model from Miami. So I spent four days there living the beach life, and I enjoyed it very much. When I do have a few days off, I like to visit my hometown in North Carolina.

16. Do you have a tattoo? If so, why did you get it, and do you think you’ll keep it?

I got a tattoo because I was a depressed teenager and didn’t care about myself during that period of time. I was 14 years old. I will keep it as a reminder of who I was and where I came from. Not that all people who get tattoos are that way. It was just the circumstances I found myself in. Looking back I wish had not done it, but I’m not ashamed about it. But I don’t plan on getting any more in the future.

17. Did you ever consider acting? In what sort of production (TV, stage, movie)?

Yes, I’ve considered acting. I like comedy and drama. I’m not too big on the romantic side. I wouldn’t want to kiss a stranger for money. Television or movies would be fine with me.

18. I know this may sound crazy, but what is your favorite smell and why?

I really like the smell of cinnamon. It reminds me of Christmas. I also like the smell of Pine-Sol. It takes me back to when I was a kid, and my mom would open up all of the windows and mop all the floors. I could see the curtains flapping, and everything smelled so clean.

19. I was thinking about learning how to play guitar. How did you learn to play?

I got a book and learned some chords and the scales and practiced nonstop for years. Sometimes I’d sit in the bathroom in the dark on the bathtub facing the wall. That taught me how to play without looking at my guitar. Later on when I moved to Nashville, I took guitar lessons with Ellen Britton, and she took my playing to a whole new level. She’s a great teacher, and I highly recommend her.

20. What is your favorite movie of all time? Who is your favorite character in the movie? Why are those your favorites?

My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz. My favorite character in the movie is the Cowardly Lion. I like the movie because it brings back childlike memories, and it is an amazing movie that has stood the test of time. I like the lion because he put up a big front as a tough guy, but just like everybody, there’s always a good side.