Recovery Can be a Hard Way to Go: Interview with Musician Jimmy Charles and Co.
Let’s face it; recovery is hard. While it can be immensely liberating, it’s an ongoing process with constant pitfalls that can bring one back to bad habits. In these trying times, it’s important to hear stories about recovery to encourage those who are struggling. Singer-songwriter and country music recording artist Jimmy Charles recently released the song “Hard Way To Go” with the intention to do just that. The accompanying video tells a story about addiction from the viewpoint of an addict struggling to stay sober. After being faced with the reality of losing his family and hitting rock bottom, the man manages to commit to staying sober and rebuilding his life and family.
Jimmy and his wife and manager Miranda Merlot took some time to talk to AAC about “Hard Way To Go” and about the importance of telling one’s story in these trying times. Actor and producer Kyle Smithson, who stars in the “Hard Way To Go” music video, also took time to share his experiences with substance use and his time working with Jimmy. Hard Way To Go Music Video
Inspiration for “Hard Way To Go”
This song seems like it draws from personal experiences with substance use. Can you talk a bit about what inspired you to perform ‘Hard Way to Go’?
Jimmy: What we realized when we started this project is that addiction is all around us, behind every closed door. We all have personal connections who struggle with addiction. I have a very close friend whose son died of an overdose. I’m not an addict myself, but I never knew my biological father…due to drinking. My mother and adoptive father really tried to protect me from that.
Right now is the most crucial time. Addiction rates are just going right up, because of COVID, the pandemic. We realized this was the perfect time to release “Hard Way To Go.” There’s a lot of good people that suffer because of substance use. The video’s amazing because it tells a story from the perspective of an addict and lets people know that it’s okay to go forward and fall back.
Music and Recovery
‘Hard Way To Go’ feels oftentimes like it’s meant to give encouragement to people struggling with substance use and recovery. How do you feel music can affect somebody struggling with addiction? Or somebody struggling to maintain sobriety?
Jimmy: Music has a pathway to the soul; it can cause an emotional change and shift. We released the song on the 25th (of September) and the feedback we’ve got…wow, it gave me chills; so powerful, so true. People have feelings bottled up, and the song, which is honest and real – it doesn’t sugarcoat anything – it can help people experience an emotional change, let them know they’re not alone and that they can release the pain they hold inside.
Perseverance is a recurring theme in the song. You sing about how recovery isn’t easy, and it’s easy to get lost, take a wrong turn, etc. How do you feel perseverance factors into recovery and beating substance use?
Jimmy: Yeah, there’s an honest truth to the song. There is no such thing as a recovered addicted, only a recovering addict. It’s a process; people may get sober for two weeks, but then fall back. It’s a continuous grind taken one day at a time. I hope that the song can make somebody realize, “It’s tough, but somebody else has been down this road. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to try again.” Once somebody can relate to the song, they can find the power to keep trying.
Miranda: That’s why the video ends on a positive note. The video features a recovering addict who got his life and family back together.
Jimmy: Hopefully people will think, “he did it, and I can too.” We want to give as much hope and positivity as possible.
Another big theme in ‘Hard Way To Go’ is family. This is covered early on in the lyrics of the song. A lot of times, substance use can affect an entire family. How did addiction impact your family? And how did your family begin to heal from the impact of addiction?
Jimmy: Not knowing my biological dad…it was strange. His alcohol use put us both in danger. He would try and pick me up drunk, he was in a lot of accidents and his alcohol use created altercations. It was a bad time. Miranda and I have both had family members who’ve overdosed and seeing the pain that people have had to endure…the pain, it’s real. I’m a new dad, one year now, and if something were to happen to my child…I can’t imagine…but I hope the song will be motivational. I hope it will help people get out there.
Working on the Video
Kyle Smithson, you are in recovery yourself, and starred in the “Hard Way To Go” music video. Can you talk a bit about your experiences with substance use and recovery, and how you hope this song and video will speak to others who are struggling with substance?
Kyle: Yeah, I’ve been in the entertainment industry for quite a while, and I got into the lifestyle, with the substance use that follows. I got to go to rehab and worked hard to get clean and sober. I learned to surround myself with good people, to get sober, clear headed, and focused on my career and helping others.
Initially I came on as the producer for the video. The more I listened to the song and heard his story, I started talking to Jimmy about how this related to my story. It was sort of a surreal moment because I’d lived a story so similar. I found it really therapeutic to play the lead in the video. Hopefully it will reach others and help them to recover.
Are there any closing remarks you want to make about the song, or advice you want to give to people who are affected by substance use and seeking help?
Jimmy: You know, we’re super excited about the release of the song and video. The more we dive into the issue the more we find it (addiction), the more we realize how much of it we didn’t see before. We want people to know there is nothing embarrassing about asking for help.
Kyle: I think this video, this song, is a reflection of my life. I want to share hope. For anybody going down this road, it is a hard way to go. It’s hard, but they can ask for help. Recovery is an amazing thing. I wouldn’t have had this chance to be in a video like this if it hadn’t been for my recovery.
Jimmy: We want to be there with open arms to let everybody know there’s help out there. We hope the video will be used as a tool to get people started telling their stories. You know, when you share the video and song, you don’t know who will view it, who will listen. Hopefully they feel able to tell their story and get started on recovery. Around 100,000 people die each year from drug and alcohol related deaths. I’m hoping this project will see a decrease in that number and help restore many families and lives.
Otherwise, I want to thank CMT, and all the media platforms, and American Addiction Centers for helping to reach people and offer solutions. Please, everybody, share the video, make it personal if you can. You never know who you might reach.
Substance Use, Recovery, and AAC
At the end of the day, recovery is a journey. Recovery will have its highs and its lows, but it’s important to persevere. Jimmy, Miranda, and Kyle hope that you’ll hear “Hard Way To Go” and feel comfortable sharing your story about recovery. For those who are inspired to seek sobriety, AAC is ready to help you get started. Our helpline is staffed with knowledgeable and compassionate people to help answer questions about recovery and help you navigate towards the treatment center that’s right for you. Don’t delay your recovery; call today at 866-244-1070.
To see more from Kyle Smithson, visit his website.