A couple of these songs will forever be associated with the late great Tammy Wynette. She co-wrote "These Days I Barely Get By" with George Jones, for one, and had a Wynette/Jones hit with "We're Gonna Hold On." Ironically, Singletary performed at Wynette's last ever concert appearance. Singletary remembers these last Wynette days well.
"After that show in Cerritos (Cal.), we came back to Nashville, which was in March," Singletary recalls. "We played Prime Time Country, and she passed in April. I've had some of the most wonderful memories with legends of the business. I played Tammy Wynette's last live show, and I played the last TV show with her. That night, Tammy, between commercial breaks, leaned over to me and she said, 'You know what? I have a song that me and Jones wrote, and I just think you would sing it so good. You've probably never heard it before, but it's a song called 'These Days I Barely Get By.' From that day on, I've never forgotten that. I thought that was one of the most flattering comments that anybody could ever pay someone, being that she's such a legend in the business." Although he found it funny that she thought he'd never heard it before, it will always be a special song for him. "To get to do it on this record was really neat."
The new CD's cover contains a sticker with this George Jones quote: "Daryle embodies what country music is all about." Singletary may not be in the top echelon of contemporary country music, measured by sales and popularity, but folks like Wynette and Jones certainly know the good stuff when they hear it. They also aren't afraid to complement Singletary for his obvious natural skills.
"Man, I've been so fortunate," he relays. "I've talked many times about being true to myself and just being who I am and not trying to chase radio and not trying to chase the industry. Just be who I am as an artist and a person. And fortunately, it's paid off. I think people can see through the smoke and the lights and see the real thing there. To have George Jones say the wonderful things he has said; it's kind of surreal. Is this really happening? Is this really true? For him not only to make comments like he does, but to even know my name is pretty darn cool "
One new track, "I Still Sing This Way," features a humorous line where record executives squeeze Singletary into leather pants and put him in front of a rock and roll band. This is to give him more appeal to mainstream audiences. But it is pure fiction, of course, and not based on Singletary's real life experiences.
"I haven't had the wardrobe...we used those lyrics in the song because, I mean, it's very visual," he explains. "We did, back in 1999 or 2000, record a song that Savage Garden did, 'I Knew I Loved You before I Met You.' That's probably the first experience - and the last - that I had with taking a pop song and trying to make it country. I found out real quick that that's not where my heart's at. That's not what I need to be doing. What happened was, even though I liked the record...I think it was good...Savage Garden did a great job on it. But people said, 'You know, that's not Daryle Singletary.' And I realized they were right. So I went back to that (philosophy), 'We don't want to chase anybody. We just want to do what we love to do.' I think if you do that, the rewards are great."
Singletary is a man who knows precisely what he's supposed to be doing. It's easy, as he says to chase radio and follow the industry. But this is a chase where a man can also easily lose his identity.
"I've been very fortunate. I'm very thankful I have a God-given talent," he explains. "Without God, none of this would be possible. I just feel so fortunate to be able to live in a dream. I moved to Nashville in 1990 and worked things out considerably quick. I got my record deal in '94."
By 1996, Singletary had three top 5 hits, "I Let Her Lie," "Too Much Fun" and "Amen Kind of Love." He has yet to hit the top 25 again.
Even with the ups and downs in the business, I wouldn't change a thing that's happened. Hopefully, I've got a long life to go. I would by no means want to do anything else as far as my style and knowing who I wanna be and what I wanna be."
Singletary's first love is singing, of course. But it's not the only thing he does well. "I'm a big hunter," he says. "That's one of my passions, one of my hobbies you might say. I've been given the opportunity to co-host a hunting show called 'Wayne Burns Outdoor All-Stars.' It's on Comcast Charter Sports Southeast, which goes to about 7.2 million homes. I'm kind of excited about that. It gives me an opportunity to keep my face out there. We're gonna have some of my buddies on the show with us. That'll give us the opportunity to pick and play and hunt."
As good as "Straight from the Heart" is, Singletary still hasn't released an album of all new material since 2000. His previous CD, "That's Why I Sing This Way," was also a covers CD.
"There's some new stuff coming out, hopefully in the next year or so," Singletary promises. But will these new songs also come out on Shanachie? "I don't know," he says. "We've talked about that. This marriage was for this record only. If it's successful, they'd want to do something else. I'm thankful for that. We're just praying for success for this record and just kind of living one day at a time."