"First thing I did when the plane finally landed/ was kiss the ground/ next thing I did was go find my old friends/ down at the old hangout/ we drank some beer and talked a lot about old times." - I Just Came Back From A War - Darryl Worley-Wynn Varble

When Darryl Worley cut his fifth album he tried to avoid militaristic imagery created by patriotic hits such as Have You Forgotten and to a lesser extent, Good Day To Run and I Will Hold My Ground.

But inclusion of I Just Came Back From A War on Here And Now released on fellow singer Neal McCoy's indie label 903 ensured that was unlikely.

Radio programmers heard advance copies of the disc and rejected his eclectic love and festive tunes and opted for a strident social comment song that examined angst shown to the returning soldiers.

It was soon the biggest hit from a disc on an indie label that went belly up when it ran out of money.

"To be perfectly honest with you," the preacher's son recently revealed, "we didn't even think this song would make it to radio. We didn't release this song as a single. It released itself. It's similar to the way Have You Forgotten wound up out there. We wrote this song and put it on the album because we wanted the troops to know we hadn't forgotten them, that we still think about them and pray for them."

The song, written with Wynn Varble - also co-writer of the 2003 smash hit Have You Forgotten that topped charts for seven weeks - soared into the Top 20.

Worley feared that Have You Forgotten put him in the same patriotic pen that God Bless the USA did for Lee Greenwood.

"When you've had a hit of that magnitude," Worley, now 42, added.

"It's like, 'gosh, I don't know if people want anything else from me after this.' But we were able to switch the focus with a song called Awful Beautiful Life. I had a #1 single with that.

We saw the kind of reaction we got to that in our live shows. It was a real welcome addition to the song list. So we decided that we would do some things more like that."


Worley, born at tiny Pyburn in Hardin County, Tennessee, and biology and chemistry graduate of the University Of Alabama, had hits with I Miss My Friend in 2002 and If Something Should Happen in 2005.

The small town is near the Tennessee/Mississippi/ Alabama border, about two hours from Nashville, and named its annual Tennessee River Run festival after a Worley song.

Worley grew up in Savannah, 140 miles southwest of Nashville, where father Tommy Jack, a former paper mill worker, became a preacher during his formative years.

He earlier broke his back playing basketball in high school before working in a paper mill, in construction, and as a commercial fisherman on the Tennessee River, for tuition money.

Worley later became a secondary teacher for a year after graduation and headed south to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to write songs.

Worley scored a deal with Fame Publishing and artists such as George Jones cut his songs.

Jones recorded Worley's Saints & Sinners for stone county rebirth album The Cold Hard Truth.

Prolific writer Jamie O'Hara, who made his name with Kieran Kane in the O'Kanes, wrote the title track.

After two years EMI Publishing signed him and in 1994 Worley moved to Nashville where he met producer Frank Rogers whose clients included Brad Paisley and Phil Vassar.

His debut Dreamworks 2000 album Hard Rain Won't Last preceded I Miss My Friend in 2002, Have You Forgotten (2003) and Darryl Worley in 2004.

Worley and his former wife of five years, Beverly, co-owned the Worleybird Café in Savannah.

The couple wed in May 2001 and split in August 2006.

But it was not because Worley, 6 foot 6 in tall, posed naked for Playgirl magazine to promote his new image.


"I just came back from a place where they hated me/ and everything I stand for/ a land where our brothers are dying for others/ who don't even care anymore/ if I'm not exactly not the same good old boy/ that your ran around with before/ I just came back from a war." - I Just Came Back From A War - Darryl Worley-Wynn Varble.

Worley, who has frequently entertained U.S. troops in war zones, says his song didn't specifically relate to Iraq - where he has performed four times - and Afghanistan.

He says the song is a wakeup call to a nation that has callously spurned or neglected veterans of earlier conflicts.

"I think it addresses the truth of that issue," says Worley - a towering tenor - whose live shows also included Kuwait and Afghanistan with fellow country artist Mark Wills and comic Al Franken.

Worley and liberal Franken view America's role in Iraq differently but he says artists in war zones tend to find common cause.

"We've had a few discussions," Worley explained.

"But over the years it seems like it's just a situation where, if we get into something where we're diametrically opposed, we just kind of leave that alone or take it in a different direction - whatever we have to do to get along.

"Honestly, in those particular situations, it's more about the troops and what they want and need. We make it work however we can. I've grown to realise that everybody thinking what they want to think and believing what they want to believe is part of what those guys are fighting for. It's been good for me."

Worley concedes that he's happy to have another hit - even on an indie label - on that subject to keep his career rolling.

"Sometimes if major labels find something that they actually have hits with and make a little bit of money with, they'll sort of push you into that - pigeonhole you into doing nothing but that," Worley confided.

"That's where I feel like I've been. But there are a lot of other dimensions, you know, to Darryl Worley, the artist. And that's what we want to show."


"People say I'm a crazy son of a gun/'cause I made me a couple million/ never saved a one/ I don't ever buy green bananas/ don't believe I'll ever leave Savannah/ I don't worry about tomorrow until it comes." - Living In The Here And Now - Darryl Worley-Brett Jones.

Worley and his producer Frank Rogers created an aural bliss from entrée Jumping Off The Wagon, Nothing but A Love Thang, replete with sensual boudoir video and model named Magdalena, Free and It's The Way You Love Me to self deprecatory title track Living In The Here And Now.

The latter features a Muscle Shoals-style soul arrangement and Memphis-inflected guitar solo.

"Well, I've changed. I don't care as much anymore - I mean that in a positive way," said of his deal with McCoy's 903 Label.

"I don't have anybody telling me who I am, how I should look, or what I can sing about.

Again, I stand behind every song I've ever sung, but if all you knew about me was what you've already heard, then you wouldn't know that when I'm out with friends - say, at a biker bar in New York - I'm the life of the party. Only my friends know that I'm that guy too. And now I feel free to let everyone know who I am."

Do You Know What That Is, augmented with a chorus of voices singing the title, is a blue-collar anthem of sorts.

"Work like a dog all day in the hay/do you know what that is/five days' work for one day's pay/do you know what that is."


"I got drunk in Raleigh and played far too long/ word got back to Nashville before I got home/ record label said boy you better straighten up your act/ the lawyers said that's what the contracts say/ so I got good and sober and stayed that way/ still you couldn't find a Worley record on the rack." - Jumpin' Off The Wagon - Darryl Worley- Wynn Varble-Don Poythress.

Worley, grandson of a moonshiner, exploits booze-fuelled hedonism in Jumping Off The Wagon.

"I'm already feeling more like my old self/that double shot of Dickel was a lot of help/ I ain't fallin', hell, I'm jumpin' off the wagon").

And, of course, again in Whiskey Makes The World Go Around.

"But I met the boys last night at the Dead Dog lounge/ they talked me into a shot and I was feeling fine/ they said see what you been missing all this time/ whiskey makes the world go around.'

Equally vivid is Slow Dancing with a Memory and Nothing to Lose.

"I might buy me a bottle of five-dollar booze/give thanks for this shirt and this old
pair of shoes/build me a raft out of old inner tubes/shove off and go for a cruise - hell, I ain't got nothin' to lose".

And let's not the wanton wenches, reprised from the video song, in Lowdown Women - where the cloying credit card clutching city slicker in alligator shoes loses the honky tonk teaser to the blue collar.

It's a sibling of sorts to Party Song where the boys on the bus pass guitars and create a tune - "it'll get you high like Cheech And Chong/ all you needed was a party song."

A far cry from the killing fields of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip where Worley fuelled his patriotic paeans.



"I see families torn to pieces by crystal meth and crack cocaine/ and some of those sworn to provide us with protection/ just turn their backs and cut a deal with the infection." - Wake Up America - Darryl Worley-Chris Stapleton-Frank Rogers

Tennessee preacher's son Darryl Worley shoots from a good book that has polarised critics.

And, of course, been a nice little earner as his hymnal homilies have been fodder for radio in his war torn homeland.

It all started when his anthemic Afghanistan war flame-thrower Have You Forgotten was adopted by radio and troops.

Worley is a tangible target like fellow chart topper Toby Keith but doesn't resile from singing all the way to the royalty bank.

The baritone, raised in a tiny town, Pyburn, long ago turned pain from losing a finger top and a broken back in basketball and ruptured romances, into music.

And unlike Skyhooks guitarist Bongo Starkie he successfully retrieved the ring after a 15-year relationship and turned it to gold in his hit When You Need My Love.

"I got the ring back, traded it in, and bought me a pick-up truck," Worley revealed.

"And now the truck and the song are about all that is left of that."

Other hits were spawned by the double fatality of a former lover and child and murder of writing partner Randy Hardison who penned two songs for Worley's third album.

But now, as war weary Worley promotes his self-titled fourth disc on Dreamworks, he has found more battles to fight.


"Wall Street don't run out by my house/ I don't put much stock in their game/ just three things in the world concern me/ I lover her, she hates me and I drink." - I Love She Hates Me, I Drink - Kim Williams-Buddy Brock-Casey Beathard.

There's another anthemic tune Wake Up America, parodying government sponsored drug abuse and genetic premature death in If Something Should Happen.

But the former research biologist, a University of North Alabama graduate after being raised in Sheriff Buford Pusser's famed Hardin Country, is not all doom and gloom.

Worley entrees with ironic Awful Beautiful Life - penned with Harley Allen - and revs up his stone country music with a groove-laden humour in his hung over redemption requiem.

"My wife wanted to kill me but she tried to save me first," Worley sings of a church pit stop that segues into If I Could Tell The Truth, penned with prolific Jerry Salley.

And, for good measure, there's a sibling booze refrain I Love Her, She Hates Me (I Drink.)

Worley's parody Work And Worry - a personalized psalm on a money-maker who dies from prioritising work ahead of happiness - precedes his love song trilogy If It Hadn't Been For Love, Was It Good For You and Find Me.

The singer exploits diverse shades of love - cheating in What Makes A Man Do That - and recovery after the storm in Better Than I Deserve.

It's no surprise that Worley - despite polarising political zealots - still rides the charts on a disc whose finale is the soft gospel of Whistle Dixie.

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