Jimmy Wayne Reflects Back on Meet Me Halfway Journey
Last year, Jimmy Wayne embarked on a 1,700-mile trek from Nashville, Tenn. to Phoenix, Ariz. on foot to raise awareness for teen homelessness in America. Project Meet Me Halfway was launched on January 1, 2010 and concluded on August 1, 2010. During the months spent walking through the dead of winter and the blistering heat of summer, Wayne accomplished his mission with the amount of awareness that was raised, but also did some soul searching along the backroads of America. Taste of Country recently sat down with the 'Do You Believe Me Now' and 'Stay Gone' singer in Nashville -- one year after the birth of Meet Me Halfway -- to discuss the journey and his future plans to keep the campaign going strong.
Why did you choose to walk rather than playing a show to raise awareness for these teens?
I don’t know why I decided to walk instead of doing something else, but I do know this: I kind of look at it like fishing. Some of us can sit on the bank and fish or some of us can go deep-sea fishing. There’s a big difference. Sitting on the bank is fun and it’s safe, but going deep-sea fishing … you’ve got some challenges going on, but you may catch the bigger fish. You’re going to raise the awareness when you come back holding your fish up in front of all the other fish [laughs]. That’s just what you do. You’ve got to go deep-sea fishing. I thought I had to raise awareness for something I truly believe in that’s striking me right now. At that time, that was the way it hit me.
What has been one of the biggest misunderstandings about the walk?
What I try to get people to understand is it was during a time when I would have been sitting in Nashville writing songs. It wasn’t like I was sacrificing shows or I was giving up gigs or anything. I was going to be sitting here anyways. I’m one of those people who can chew gum and walk at the same time. I was like if I walk, I can write, and I can possibly come up with a song idea. Why not do it? It made perfect sense. I wasn’t putting myself out in any way. I was just raising awareness. I’ve played a lot of shows over the years and have done a lot of charity work. I just wanted to do something different. I’ve said the same thing over and over. I just wanted to raise awareness on a grand scale so I figured I’d walk. I didn’t know what else to do.
What do you miss and not miss the most about the walk?
Probably what I don’t miss about the walk the most, and this is going to sound crazy, but the snakes. Really … that was probably my worst fear. I was in Adrian, Texas and about stepped on that rattlesnake. I always tried to make the walk sound like I wasn’t complaining because I don’t think people want to hear me complain because nobody asked me to do the walk, but it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I didn’t tell a lot of what was really going on out there because I don’t think people want to hear all that stuff.
I think the part I miss the most is the people. I miss those people out there on the road who cherished one another. I miss the people and I miss the walking. I miss the walking and seeing the different parts of the country that no one will ever see. The stuff you see on the side of the road -- you just laugh at.
What were the most common things you found on the road while walking?
People could never imagine that there’s 600,000 pairs of gloves laying on the side of the road. For some reason, gloves are on the side of the road from here to Phoenix. Why are there so many pairs of gloves? It’s the strangest thing. If there’s anything on the side of the road, it’s that and bungee chords. That’s the most litter on the side of the road. You’d think it would be cans, but it’s not. It’s gloves.
What was the most random thing that you found on the side of the road?
A Lucille Ball ashtray, which I kept and have in my house right now.
If you had to pick craziest, scariest and weirdest moments on this walk, what would they be?
Weirdest moments would definitely be the guy stopping in New Mexico. The scariest moment would be probably the old man in Arkansas with his gun in his lap asking me why I was walking down the road. The craziest moment was when the girl bit the raccoon toe nail.
How long did it take for things to sink in that you were done with the walk?
Nothing sank in until several days after the walk. I was just a zombie. There’s no high like walking across the country. I mean, how do you come off of that? I’ve heard of other people that’s done stuff like this, and they go through a very serious depression. And it was. You just come off this high that’s unbelievable, and you can’t … how do you shake that? You just can’t. Not for a while.
What would you like the next step to be with Meet Me Halfway?
I’m random. I’m spontaneous. It’s like Christopher Columbus: When he came back, he didn’t jump on a boat and head out again. He came back with the news and spread the word. We have America because of that -- because he wasn’t afraid to get out and fall of the edge of the earth. Sometimes you’ve got to be brave enough.
How are you different today as compared to where you were before the walk?
I’m inspired now. Once again I’m inspired. I’m not burnt out. I’m full of ideas and full of fire. I can’t wait to be able to sing these songs I've been writing and tell people about it and these ideas I’ve got. I know they’re great. They’re great ideas and it’s stuff that hasn’t been written because I’m the only one in the country music format that’s walked across America.
Looking back at last year, do you have any regrets in doing the walk?
No, I’m glad I did it. There’s not one thing about it that I would change. Every single thing about it was perfect to me. It’s like I still haven’t come down off of the high of it. It’s the biggest thing that I’ve ever done. I’ve always felt like a brand new Coca-Cola that’s been shaken and shaken and shaken, but never got released. There was just so much built up inside of me. I knew that I had so much to offer -- I can play the guitar, I can sing, I can write -- I can do those things. And I have a story to tell, so why not do that?
Watch the Jimmy Wayne 'Sara Smile' Video