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Darryl Worley lives the awfully beautiful life

By Jeffrey B. Remz, December 2004

Page 2...

"Obviously, the whole idea was the light and the dark and the heavy and the light, the ups and downs of everyday life. To me, it sounded like the first single from the very beginning but that almost wasn't the case.

The label planned to release "If Something Should Happen," about a man who may be facing a deadly illness and implores his friend to take care of his family.

"Then Tim McGraw came out," says Worley referring to his hit single, "Live Like You Were Dying," which is within the same lyrical realm. "They thought it was too similar," says Worley, adding that he thinks it will be his next single.

While Worley did not write the song - close friends Jim Brown, Dave Turnbull and Dan DeMay did - he indicates eerie similarities to his own family concerning names in the song being the same as some of his family.

"The whole thing was starting to get a little weird. I said, 'where did you all get this information? They just looked at me like I was crazy. I thought I should cut this, so I did this."

"It's been hard for me to digest that song because I can see my grandpa a year before he died with all his children gathered around him, and I could see in his face he hated to leave. Even though they're all grown, they wanted him to guide them in their lives. This reminds me of the kind of person that my grandfather was. Every night I sing that song. I know he's listening."

"My life is an open book now," he says. "It has been for a long time. If you're not that type of person, and you want to make music with a message, if you're a writer, your personal feelings are going to be found out."

"If you have songs on your album that don't represent you and what you believe in, people are going to find out (and ask) 'do you agree with this? Do you believe this?'" The album ends on a somewhat optimistic note with "Whistle Dixie," about a man envisioning his burial reading to meet his Maker, while reflecting on some of the good things in life.

"I was sitting here at my apartment in Nashville way over in the morning, maybe three or four in the morning, sitting at my table in the dining room maybe just feeling sorry for myself," Worley says. "It just occurred to me that I was maybe one of the most blessed individuals in the whole world. I was going through some hard times then in my personal life. I felt creative, and I got my guitar out. It's very hymn like, very Southern gospel, almost southern rock in some ways. But the whole chorus came to me as fast as I can sing it. I tried every way in the world to change it. You never leave something alone. I never could find a better way to say it."

"Because of that, I knew it was just a gift. I knew it had to be on the album. I fought for it. I said it has to be one of the keepers."

Referring to himself as a sinner, Worley said, "I've got that other side of me that likes to kick up my heels and have a kick have a good time. I know I probably do things sometimes, I shouldn't, but who don't?"

On previous albums, James Stroud, one of the heads of DreamWorks Records, handled production chores with Frank Rogers, who gained acclaim for producing Brad Paisley and others.

This time, however, Rogers called the shots without Stroud.

"That was something we asked for because we had wanted to experiment with some things that we'd been hearing in our heads from the beginning, and James said, 'go out there, and make some great music, and make us proud. That's exactly what we did."

Worley acknowledged the change was not easily made.

"James was very concerned," says Worley. "He was concerned for one really important reason...He said this to me, and it touched me because I knew he meant it - 'I want you guys to go and make the best music you've ever made, and do it, and make me proud. Here's why I'm concerned. Darryl Worley has one career. Frank Rogers and James Stroud, we have careers lining out the door. Everybody wants to work with us. I want the best for that career'."

"Because it is the fourth album, we had a little more money than in the past. We just want to try some different things and experiment."

Worley says Stroud told him to bring in three or four songs and "see where we go from there. That's all you can ask'. A record label can't say just forget about it."

"When we came in with this music, he said this is genius. He was so excited for us and the record label and for me. He was just so gracious."

Worley went to Stroud with "Awful, Beautiful Life," "If Something Should Happen, "I Love her, She Hates Me" and "Was It Good For You."

Worley grew up in Pyburn, Tenn., in the southwestern part of the state. The community had a few hundred people in a very rural setting in a pretty tough county with beer joints and honky tonks abounding.

"We were surrounded by them," says the song of a preacher man. "I grew up with one straight across the street from my house."

"I grew up around the dark and the light. I saw the dark, and I experienced the light. My parents tried to protect us from that and tried to cover our eyes so that we didn't grow up too fast and have to ask too many questions about things that were happening. The truth is we did grow up pretty fast, and I'm thankful it's the way it was because there's nothing that comes my way now that I can't handle. Even at an early age, I remember my father coming home 11, 11:30 and having to take a gun and going to the beer joint and (them) turning down the music because he couldn't get the police and county to take care of it...Nobody ever came. He said the music's got to go down. He did it so much they deputized him."

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