Sitting down with Darryl Worley is a great gift – perhaps even the gift of a lifetime. Because being able to visit with someone who practices what he preaches – or in his case, sings and lives – is a great feeling.
Worley is exactly what and who you think he is going to be. He has not forgotten his country music roots or the era of country music he feels most at home with. Nor has he forgotten those who protect us each day so we can have the privilege of living the lives we lead – sometimes with little thought about those who are laying it all on the line for us on a daily basis.
Worley states that he has a lot of family and friends in the military and that the song “Have You Forgotten” (based on the 9/11 attacks) was written for many of those he was close to.
“We have so many family members in the military. I was afraid we would lose some family members afterwards. A lot of our guys were shipped out the night after [9/11]. And we have people very special to us that do unthinkable jobs and who are members of different teams, Special Forces and things like that. The military connection has been my part of it all along. Because I think we very much take for granted the people who do that – and even the ones here on the home front that take care of us each and every day.” (in reference to firemen, policemen, EMTs, etc.)
Worley’s Country Music Roots are Showin’
“When it comes to country music I come from a certain era I guess, and so what I do in that genre will probably always be much like I’ve done and what I like to do. It’s not to say that I can’t change the production up a little bit and make the songs sound a little more progressive but for me, a song’s got to have substance – it’s got to have a meaning or a message or something. Even the fun stuff can have a good message. So I’m hoping I can get a few things on there [his new album] where people think, ‘hey that’s a cool song, and it’s still Darryl Worley.’
You know, don’t overcomplicate things – it’s really about everyday life. So write [your songs] about that. Make it real to life and people will migrate to it. I’ve always had songs on my albums that might address a very difficult situation – be it a lost love or lost loved one or whatever it is. I like to live in those places where whatever I’m writing about or singing about might save somebody some trouble.
That’s my goal – to make people say, ‘oh, that’s me – or that’s my family.’ Or they stop and really listen to the lyrics because it’s what they’re going through right now. And maybe it helps – and maybe it’s therapy for us [the writers] sometimes.“
Most important songs
Worley has a new album coming out containing 15 songs in honor of the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The album will be Worley’s greatest hits, but will also contain a few new songs also. But what songs does Worley feel have been the most important to him?
“Everybody would expect me to say ‘Have you Forgotten,’ and for obvious reasons it is really important to me. It’s probably one of the reasons I’m sitting here talking with you today. And I think we’ve consistently put out good music but we haven’t done that in a while so we’ll see how this new stuff goes over. We’re hoping the new songs go over as well as our previous songs have.
My first number one was ‘I Miss My Friend,’ and you have to have a first one before you can have a bunch of them. So that one was important.
‘Awful Beautiful Life’ gets more recurring airplay than any of them. So each tune plays its part in the big picture. But ‘Have you Forgotten,’ for obvious reasons, is the mainstay song. That’s what people remember me by. I still get work because of that song.”
TOURING OVERSEAS without the USO – to reach troops at smaller installations.
“The last time I did something like that…I knew that journey was going to be different than any other one we’d ever done because it was with a private company. And when you’re not with the USO, a lot of times you’ll have opportunities to go away from the bigger bases and see the people at smaller installations or tiny little base camps. And we requested that the military allow us do only that for the whole trip out. We weren’t going with the USO and it was a private-funded trip. I wanted to go see friends and kinfolks that are out there in these [more remote] places. So we spent 10 days in Afghanistan. We never saw a big base and we stayed out in the villages and base camps with our guys that were really getting it done and we entertained them for the whole time. And the trip ended up being pretty eventful, but we’d had much closer calls on other trips we’ve taken.”
Many country music artists and celebrities are often involved in nonprofit work and charitable causes. But Worley takes his work of giving back to a whole new level.
The Tennessee River Run proceeds benefit the Darryl Worley Foundation, which in turn, benefits many national causes like St. Jude, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer and others.
The Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center however, housed in the Hardin Medical Center in Savannah, Tennessee, is Worley’s most important work.
“The cool thing about the cancer treatment center is that we made a commitment to ourselves and to our community when we opened that place, that as long as we didn’t have to close down because of it, if someone makes it there – we won’t turn anybody away – whether they can pay or not. If you can’t [afford to] get treatment anyplace else you can get treatments at the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center.
That’s not our focus – it has to make some money or we can’t sustain it. But we pick up the slack with our fundraising. It’s 24/7, 365. But it’s worth it!!!”
Worley says his wife of eight years, Kimberly, is always very supportive, as is his 9-year-old daughter, Savannah. But Worley says of himself that he has different priorities now than he’s had in the past, with God and family now at the top of his list.
“I think my priorities are different now. The relationship with God and my family is really important to me. I lost my way for quite a few years. Not to say that since I’ve come to know the Lord that I lived without him, I just wasn’t living for him. And in the last year and a half or so I’ve gotten on a different plane with some things. I’ve gone through, some difficulties of my own and it’s required that I lean more on Him. And so to come out of it like I wanted to, I really had to learn how to lean.
And I believe the non-profit work and the cancer treatment center will be my legacy and as important as anything I’ll ever do. I love music and I love taking it to people who need it the most, but in the end, all of it boils down to is the fact that we’re commissioned to love our neighbors and do what we can for other people.
That’s where all the energy and passion comes from. My parents breathed that into me and said ‘don’t ever forget where you come from.’ And I’ve always remembered that – and it’s all worth it!”
For more information on Darryl Worley’s music, visit his official website or his Facebook page. For more information on the Darryl Worley Foundation, visit the official website and the Hardin Medical Center website for info on the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center.