The Vancouver Sun
Jim Byrnes is an award-winning musician, songwriter and actor. His latest release I Hear the Wind in the Wires is a departure from his blues background into traditional country territory. He is currently preparing for a tour of B.C., Alberta and Eastern Canada.
One of the great things about the work I do is its diversity, the vastly different situations you find yourself in, the variety of people you work with and deal with on so many levels, and the opportunities to travel to so many places.
I get to see this country from all perspectives on the road and have also travelled the world, both making music and working in film: the great, famous cities but also the obscure and forgotten corners. It opens your mind and your heart.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo. It’s a great place to be from and a great place to stay away from. As for my musical background, I did get a world-class education without even realizing it at the time. We took for granted seeing Chuck Berry driving around the neighbourhood, or catching Ike and Tina Turner at a teen town dance. But the minute I graduated from high school I couldn’t wait to head out and see the rest of the world.
It’s sometimes difficult to find that healthy work-life balance as there is little consistency in the day-to-day life of an actor or musician. It seems that we are either swamped with projects, places to be and people to see or we are waiting for the phone to ring and hoping that is not the wolf at the door. As time goes by you learn to deal with the ups and downs and you realize you will be disappointed, but you mustn’t get discouraged.
I suppose every positive thing that I have achieved is a reflection of my mother and dad. They were always there for me and stood by me through thick and thin. No matter how badly I screwed up, after the reprimand there was always a pat on the back and the admonition to “keep your chin up, buddy.” I can still hear my dad saying that. Mom is 93 now, and has good days and not so good ones. And I have to admit it’s hard sometimes being so far away from her. My sisters, nieces, her grandkids, great grandkids are all around, so she’s not alone and I talk to her numerous times every week.
I love to read, and usually have a couple of books going at once. And when I say books I mean the kind with pages and binding and spines that you put up on a shelf. My other relaxation is cooking. Well sometimes it’s not always relaxing trying to whip up a mid-week meal, but you know what I mean. I do love to cook.
My greatest weakness: Procrastination. And I seem to be getting to be pretty grumpy some days too.
How do I get through a difficult day? I suppose when it really gets rough, I think back to some of my darkest times. Forty years ago I lost both of my legs in a road accident and some very dark and challenging days followed. I figure if I could do it then, I can do it now.
I am so grateful to be alive, to be able to share my love of music and hope that it helps people along the way, the way it has helped me through the hardest times and the way it has helped me celebrate the best of times.