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The Song "Have You Forgotten" Rallies America
Country Music Artist Darryl Worley Comes Full Circle
One of the greatest songwriter/musicians to arrive on the country music scene struck a patriotic nerve following the collapse of the Twin Towers. The most devastating attack that has ever been perpetrated by America's enemies killed over 3,000 innocent men and women. The occurrence violently destroyed one of our nation's most iconic symbols known as New York City Twin Towers. In the wake of this tragedy the nation came together in dismay and unbelief with a deep sense of vulnerability never felt by our current generation. The Christian Sportsman staff is privileged to step into the current life of Darryl Worley and ask some personal questions about his past and future as a country music artist and icon for many who have followed the career of Darryl Worley. Let's get started!
1 - Tell us about your family heritage along with some of your fondest memories while growing up?
I grew up in a strict, Christian country home. We lived in a very rural area of southwestern TN. We were about one mile from beautiful Pickwick Lake on the banks of the Tennessee River. Hunting and fishing was most of our entertainment and I took to it like a fish loves the water. My dad was a paper maker and a Methodist minister, while my mom worked several different jobs and took care of us boys and the home-front. Our life was centered around the water and the woods and we learned early on to respect and take care of them.
2 - When did music first have such a strong appeal to you and who has been some of your favorite artists during your pre-music career days?
Music was always alive and well in our house. My mother had a beautiful voice and most everyone, on both sides of the family, played or sang something. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when I realized that music would probably always be a huge part of my life. It was such a joy to play and sing with my brothers.
Country music was always my favorite but we all started out on those good ole traditional gospel hymns. They still seem to resonate with us in a very deep spiritual way and I'm fairly confident that a couple of those tunes have saved my life a time or two.
My influences in country music were all the greats. Willie and Waylon, Merle Haggard, Hank Sr, Jimmy Rodgers, Vern Gosdin, Gene Watson, Keith Whitley were some of the early influences in my learning to play and sing country music.
3 - What was your relationship with your father, a gospel preacher, like prior to adulthood and then after you achieved your first breakthrough as a country music artist?
My Dad was always overworked and it used to really bother me as a child not to have much time with him. He worked full time and pastored 3 small country churches. It was too much for anyone and it eventually started to take it's toll on him. Somehow he always found some time for hunting and fishing and those are my fondest memories with my father. Honestly, that's probably why those are two of my favorite things to do.
Dad has always been very proud and thankful for my success and the music has brought us closer together. We've had some very cool opportunities, because of my career, to make some incredible memories. We have gotten to know each other better and we've had the opportunity to watch some dreams come true together. We had a very special deer hunt together last year and I'll tell you the story some day.
4 - What were some of your original dreams, family aspirations and career goals prior to launching a career as a country music artist?
I always wanted to marry and have a big family but my talents in the relationship area were never my strong suit. I wanted to be a doctor or surgeon and I could've gotten into med school with my grades. I lost interest in that field after working around it for awhile. The medical field is not for everyone and I think it would've been a little heavy for me. I love people and I can't stand to see them suffer.
5 - When did you first come to the conclusion that country music would play such a prominent role in your life?
I was about to be finished with my five year college excursion when a man named Larry Roser, from my hometown, offered to spend some money and publish some of my songs. I had been attempting to write songs for a couple years and he must've heard something that made him think I might have some potential. I realized at that moment that "Country Music" might be about to change the course of my whole life. Well, God was about to change the course of my life and I'm thankful that I know that now. I feel so blessed to have spent the last 25 years doing something that seems like a really sweet dream. I thank him everyday for the gift and his favor.
6 - You wrote what is arguably the most important song of the years following the attack on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and American liberty. What was taking place in your innermost heart at that time?
Honestly, I was angry and appalled. My co-writer and I could not believe the comments we were hearing from people about our retaliation in Afghanistan after the cowardly attacks on our nation 9/11/01. We just wanted to remind people that it hadn't been so long ago that our nation had come under a brutal attack and to sit by like nothing had happened would not make it go away. Terrorism is real and those people would murder everyone of us if we sit back and allow it to happen. We are a strong and prosperous country and we are despised by many. To drop our guard and allow these things to happen without fighting back would be certain disaster. Our freedom as a nation did not come easy and we must defend it at all costs. We have always had to do it and we always will.
The song was to stand as a reminder of all these things and to unite a people to stand against the evil that would destroy us if given any chance. It was meant to remind the American people that men and women had been giving their lives for this country and its freedoms for well over two hundred years. It was to honor those who had died in the line of duty and those that would pay the ultimate sacrifice going forward. The Bible tells us there is no greater gift than for one to lay down his or her life for a friend. These people exemplify what Jesus Christ did when he hung on that cross for our sins and they deserve to not be forgotten. We are so blessed to have these mighty warriors and all the good people who serve us here on the Homefront. Police officers, sheriffs and deputies, fireman, paramedics, rescue workers, EMS, security, state troopers, and the likes are all out there serving us everyday and they should never be forgotten.
That day will always burn in my memory and in my gut. The world had never witness such a cowardly deed even when compared to Pearl Harbor. Innocent people were murdered for no good reason. These were our people and yet some felt that we should just ignore it and turn the other cheek. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to the rest of the world to right these wrongs and hunt these terrorists down and kill them no matter what it takes. We should also eliminate any who would support this type of wrong doing toward our nation.
We were tired of hearing that chatter and we needed to get it off out chest. We wrote the song in a couple hours one day and it took on a life of its own when we played it at the (Ryman) Grand Ole Opry. What a precious gift it was and it still is today.
"Have You Forgotten" is probably the main reason I'm still out working as a country singer. I thank God for the gift and for the opportunities it has afforded me. I've seen the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform and we need to remember daily how blessed we are to have them.
On 9/11 I drove 2.5 hours to my hometown in west TN. It looked like a red white and blue parade route. I had never been so sad and so proud at the same time. This is what it took to unite our country and to make us realize that we were the most blessed nation in the world. People who are so privileged have to continue to fight for those freedoms. If there was ever any doubt that we were hated, it was put to rest by what happened that day. One year and a few months later I returned from my first trip to the war zone in Afghanistan to entertain our military. It was a very surreal experience. I headed down those same old back roads to my home in west TN for some much needed rest and time with my family on Christmas Eve. What happened to my parade route? Where was all the red, white and blue? There was an occasional American flag but for the most part it was all gone. I was returning from a place where our men and women were up against a terrible enemy. It was a very hostile environment and the conditions were tough for all who were there serving. It looked as if we had forgotten 9/11 and those who had gone to destroy the ones behind the cowardly attacks. Could it be so? I hope not but at that moment I knew that America needed a reminder. The song was eminent at that point and the rest is history.
7 - Explain from your deep personal perspective regarding the importance of the American flag, patriotism, faith and the commitment required of an American soldier?
The American flag is very important to me and my family. To us it represents the freedom that we all enjoy in this nation and the people that have died protecting that way of life. Many of our family members have gone to battle with that flag on their shoulders and we are very proud of that. Old Glory means the world to us and we always treat her with respect.
We were taught a very intense sense of patriotism from an early age. We had so many family members serving and so many veterans in the family that it was more like a way of life. My wife and I agree that our daughter should grow up the same way. Things have really changed in this country but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord and we will always be proud and stand up for the red, white and blue.
At one time this nation was known to be a Christian nation. Almost everything in our great country was founded on Christian beliefs. Our current President tells other nations that we are no longer a Christian nation. I'm sorry but that's not true until the people say it is. Americans are going to have to stand up for the right to worship before this is all over. I can't believe what we have come to. At our house, our faith is the single most important thing in life and we will do whatever it takes to keep it intact. God comes first and then everything else seems to make better sense.
Looking back on my life now, I would give anything if I had served in our military. The commitment is one of a kind. You are basically pledging to protect and guard this nation and all of her citizens with your life. That's heavy duty but that's what makes it worth while. I believe that one has to love this republic and all that she stands for to do a good job of defending her. The constitution is also under attack, and at the end of the day, that's what our men and women are upholding. The sense of commitment that the American soldier has to feel, might be the single most important factor when it comes to national security. Without these men and women and their intense sense of commitment, we would be in a very hopeless dilemma.
8 - Tell us about your wife and that beautiful redheaded daughter named Savannah?
I could talk about my wife all day. She is absolutely beautiful inside and out. She loves Jesus with all of her heart. She is a good ole country girl from WV and because of her and my daughter, my life has meaning beyond what I would've ever imagined. To put it simply, she is everything that I live for and second only to my Lord and savior. I am a blessed man in many ways but finding a woman like my wife that truly loves me is a miracle. We have to work at it like everyone else but it's worth it and that's what matters.
Savannah Gail is my pride and joy. She is a really good girl and her personality is much like her mother's. She's just very sweet, although, that red head does bring a little temper with it. I guess that's where she takes after her daddy but we are working on it. She loves shooting and she's crazy about horses. Even though she is an intense animal lover she says she's ready to take down some wild game with dad. I guess we'll see how ready she is this winter. She's really missing me a lot right now and I can't wait to finish up for the year so I can spend some quality time with her over the holidays. I think we are all about ready for that.
9 - What are some of your personal hobbies and pastime activities outside of your music career? Any hunting or fishing passions deep inside?
Hunting for turkey and deer are the things I do the most outside of my work. I love to fish for anything but it's been awhile since I've been on a good fishing trip. I've killed some great Wyoming antelope and some really good white tails on the Weatherby hunts over the last few years but I'm ready for the elk and mule deer. One of my bucket list things is to killed a giant elk with my bow. We love to eat the wild meat because it's just so much healthier.
I also enjoy just slowing down and spending time with my wife and daughter. Honestly, that's probably my favorite pastime of all.
10 - As a Weatherby pro staff team member, what has been your involvement with the annual NSSF Shot Show held in Las Vegas?
I am there almost every year. We usually hang out at the Weatherby booth for signing autographs or photos. I have done some things at the show with Luepold as well. They sponsor out team and it has been great getting to know those guys as well. Getting to know the folks at Weatherby and being involved in some of these events, has gotten me back into my outdoor activities. I turn into a bear when I take no time for the woods. We will be there again this year and I look forward to hanging out with my team mates. Team Weatherby is one of the best things I've ever done. Getting back in touch with nature has helped me get back in touch with myself.
11 - Obviously, you prefer the Weatherby brand when it comes to hunting rifles, but why?
I have had some very unique opportunities to spend time inside the Weatherby plant and to see what goes into these amazing rifles. I actually went there recently and built my own rifle. As far as I can see, there is no one out there that takes more pride in their product than Weatherby does. It's the only gun out there that you can buy from the factory and it's almost like getting a custom built rifle. If you like wood, they have the best. They have a gun for every occasion and I want one of every description. Their employees are the best in the business and they work together like a big family. If there was ever a problem with your Weatherby rifle, I guarantee you they'll make it right. I'm blown away by how hands on they are with every single piece of product that goes through the line at that plant. They are still assembled by hand with special attention to detail in all the right places. It's just a great American tradition and I am blessed to be affiliated with such an iconic brand. I think it's safe to say, Darryl Worley is a Weatherby man and I love the whole bunch. They are just good people with an amazing product.
12 - After very openly relating your story in other magazine interviews about a previously failed marriage, what life lessons could you share with our readers especially those whose marriage is unstable?
Marriage is a very spiritual undertaking. It is designed and ordained by the Lord himself and it will not be all that it can be without him in the middle of it. My first marriage was not a complete disaster until I started to disrespect it in every way. Unfortunately, that came pretty early on in our marriage. Beverly was absolutely one of the best friends I had ever had and that may have been part of the problem. I think we were both feeling the pressure of our years closing in and we probably let that have more influence on our decision to get married than we should have.
The biological clock does not necessarily help folks make good decisions. I almost think we knew better when I look back on things. We were also living together in sin and that alone was not something we felt that we should continue to do. To be perfectly honest, I was unfaithful to my first wife and I destroyed any chances that we had to make it work. Having said this here in black and white, I can also tell you that treating your marriage this way will not have a happy ending.
To be successful in marriage requires a much closer walk with God than what I knew. They don't call it Holy Matrimony for nothing. God really needs to be all up in it. If God is not all up in it, you can bet your bottom dollar the devil will be. Praying for your wife and children is crucial. Not just praying for them but praying for them the way the bible tells us to. There's lots of books out there that lay it out step by step. Get your hands on one, it will behoove you. Be proactive when it comes to putting the power of God to work in your marriage. How many times do you think, I can't do this? Well, guess what, you are right but he can. Every couple is different but that's no problem for the Almighty. He knew that long before you got together. He has just what you need and this is just another one of the ways that he brings us closer to him. Between God and my wife, they won't stop until they've smoothed out the rough spots. I think I'll be better for it.
13 - When did you begin following Jesus Christ as the Master Songwriter in your life, your Savior and Lord? Please explain?
I was saved September of 1973. I have to admit it's been up and down and back and forth. I've always had a tough time dying to self. A friend once said, you've died many times but you've never had the funeral. Being lost is a horrible place to be once you know the peace that Jesus brings to your life and I have done that for most of my life. Seeing who you are and where you are is a big part of finding your way out of the woods. I've always been a believer but mostly when it was convenient for me and that is not how it's suppose to work. To fulfill our calling we have to figure out what our spiritual gifts are and then put them to work in disciple making. God needs some more good followers that he can trust this work to and there's a lot of souls out there that need saving.
When my daughter was born 7+ years ago, I felt some strong convictions to change things about myself that had been in limbo for quite some time. Since God saw fit to give us a beautiful child, I have been working my way back. It takes longer for some than it does for others. I personally believe that it has everything to do with how far out you go. If you wander far enough from the fold, you start to think it's getting a little easier but that's only until you start trying to come back. Scary huh? I'm a hard headed sinning machine but I guess we all can be at times. I think I felt like I had to see where the limits were. I've always been kinda crazy like that. I'm not proud of the things I've done but that's because I'm closer to my Lord than I have ever been and I don't want to ever wander off that way again. The scriptures are starting to speak to me in a whole different way. When I talk to Jesus, I know he hears me.
Over the last year and a half, I have made some amazing strides and the more you do it, the easier it gets. God has so much for us and we have to seek him to find out what that is. I still slip and fall but I know who to turn to for a helping hand. I am no longer my own worst enemy. I am dealing with things that I never thought I would address. He is calling me up and calling me out. I know that something is coming and it doesn't feel like it's that far off. God needs us now more than ever and I feel like we are living in a very unique time. We may get to be a part of a massive revival. Some say that has already happened but not the one I'm talking about. I want to be ready and I want to be someone he can use.
This is a higher calling than anything I've ever been a part of and I will not sit quietly and let this amazing opportunity pass me by. Walking with him is becoming my favorite thing in life and that's how it's supposed to be. I think I've been where I've been for a reason and it will all be very clear in the days to come. I know that I can reach people that some folks wouldn't know how to talk to. I think that may be why my walk has been a little more difficult but it will certainly be worth it. God has a plan and I'm excited about watching that unfold. Most of my life I felt useless to him but not anymore. I don't know what I can do but I know what he can do through me.
14 - How does God's grace so prominently figure into a man's life when it comes to broken marriages or even fractured relationships among close friends?
The grace that God has for us is simply unbelievable. It's very difficult for someone like me to believe that anyone or anything could possibly love me that much. If you truly believe that he sent his only Son to live and die for our pathetic sins, then you have found the only place to start trying to understand it all.
I can't speak to everyone's situation but for me, it's been very difficult to forgive myself for certain things in my life. Grace plays a very strong role in being able to give up the shame and guilt and move forward to a better place. What helps me the most, is realizing that when we live in it, we are taking his victory away. He won the battle on the cross and He paid the price for it all. It must be a huge insult to him when we think what he did couldn't possibly be enough to cover my horrible sins. God's grace is enough and it is evidence of the love he has for each of his children. It is up to us to be empowered and compelled by this miracle.
Faith is always the key. Believe that he died for you, figure out what that means to you as an individual and then apply it in your life. When we figure out how God has this amazing grace for us, then we apply that same type of grace to others in our daily walk. Now that's a great concept but easier said than done. It's about coming full circle. I want to have the strongest faith in the world. When I get there, nothing will ever interfere with the perfect peace that God brings to my mix. Anything that would normally offend me will probably bring a smile. Things that would crush me, will activate resolve. Every action will bring about the perfect reaction because I will be infused with that perfect grace. No matter how big the problem gets, it never to big for God's amazing grace.
15 - Have you ever considered writing and producing country music with a distinctly Christian message and what would be the focus of the lyrics and sound?
I am working on my first Christian project right now. It will be a bit different than my country sound. This has a bit of a blues base with a Muscle Shoals edge to it. It will be churchy with B3 organ and choirs all over.
It will be music about life's lessons and hopefully speak to those hard shell cases like myself. People need to understand that salvation is not complicated. Salvation is really just a choice but turning your life over to God and being willing to do his work will fill up all the emptiness. That's what I hope people get from this project. We are all born sinners but that's what our friendship with God addresses. He's the King of helping sinners have a meaningful life. It's going to be a little funky.
16 - Who are some of the country music artist that you are familiar with who have branched out into Christian music and what has been the impact?
I just know a little about the project Alan Jackson did. He sold tons of records with it.
Tim Munsies recorded a Christian record and it changed my life. He's an amazing country singer and an incredible guitar player. He just put it all out there on the table and it shook me to my core. He's an amazing artist and everyone should own that record.
17 - If you could change anything in your life, family, career, etc, what would it be and why?
I would go back and correct a few mistakes that have kept me from being closer to my Savior. It's more about understanding the grace but I think everyone wishes they had a couple of mulligans.
The bottom line is that we can't change those things and they may eventually be the things that bring us closest to our God. It's really insane sometimes when you realize how some of this works. I'm learning to let it all go and lean on him. He's the best friend I've ever had.
18 - Could you share with our readers your favorite scripture in the Bible or a word of sage advice from a man who has experienced God love and forgiveness?
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
This scripture has gotten me through many difficult times and it still is one of my favorites.
Advice: don't be afraid to turn it over to God. I promise he will do a much better job with it than you could ever do. I'm a total control freak and believe me I have learned the hard way.
19 - Please leave our readers with a personal prayer of encouragement and hope in a world that seems to be growing much darker as the day of Christ’s return approaches?
"Father, we always approach you with a thankful heart. Help each one of us to be ever mindful of our many blessings, large and small. Thank you for your grace and your Son, Jesus Christ. Help each one of us to strive to live a life worthy of his sacrifices. Helps us not to ever forget the others who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and liberties. Help us to outwardly reflect the light of Jesus Christ and be a beacon to those who might not know him at all. Let us be proud to know you and spread the good news of the gospel to every corner of the world.
Thank you for the gift of eternal life and what it means to each one of us. Let us do Your will with all the time we have left so that we may look back on this life and know that we did what we were put here to do. I pray that we find our names in the Lamb's Book of Life and then dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever Amen!"