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Darryl Worley's Biography
ONE TIME AROUND
Throughout a career that has produced nearly twenty hit singles, including three #1s, as
well as chart-topping albums and sales in the millions, Darryl Worley has set himself one
"I've always set out to make sure every song on every album is a good one," he says. "I
want every cut to be a potential single."
It is an approach that has helped to make Darryl a mainstay of modern country music.
His unquestioned musical integrity earned him an enviable connection with the American
public and a reputation as a genuinely traditional country artist who doesn't follow
trends or fads, but rather his own bedrock convictions as an artist and a person. It
doesn't hurt that he is a distinctive singer and first-rate songwriter whose music
chronicles life, love and the world situation with equal facility.
He has topped the charts with singles including "I Miss My Friend," "Awful, Beautiful
Life" and "Have You Forgotten," which accomplished the feat for one, two and an
incredible seven weeks, respectively. He hit the Top Twenty with the first three singles
from his impressive major-label debut, Hard Rain Don't Last--"When You Need My
Love," "A Good Day to Run" and "Second Wind"--and followed with smashes like "If
Something Should Happen," "I Just Came Back From a War" the iconic "Tennessee River
Run," and “Sounds Like Life To Me.” Along the way, he earned nominations for five
major ACM and CMA awards, including "Song of the Year" and "Single of the Year," and
wrote songs for other artists including George Jones.
A dozen years into his remarkable career, with his upcoming studio album, his outlook is
as positive as it has ever been.
“This is one of the most exciting years I’ve had in a long time,” he says. “My personal
life is better than ever.
Musically, the latest addition to his highly respected catalog is One Time Around,
which more than lives up to his every-cut-a-potential-single pledge. He calls it without
hesitation "as strong a project as I've ever put together." In essence a celebration of his
longevity and of artistic maturity, One Time Around is at once a renewal and a return to
the approach that marked Worley's dramatic entry into the national spotlight a decade
"I consciously made a decision I wanted this record to have the same kind of substance
as my very first record," he says. "That album was pretty straightforward country and it
had some really great songwriters' songs on there--well crafted, clever, but with
substance. I also wanted something uplifting and fun, something that sounded different
and had great grooves."
Produced by longtime friend Jim "Moose" Brown, the record took shape slowly, a
process he prefers.
"I work on music continuously," he says, "and we've been working on this project for
about a year and a half. I was never a fan of the way we used to have to go in and do
everything at once. We cut a few tracks here and there and gradually it evolved and
took shape. It makes for a record that really gels."
Darryl wrote all but two of the songs, working with longtime friends and collaborators
like Wynn Varble, Don Poythress, Brett Jones, Steve Leslie, and Kevin Grantt. Songs
range from the album’s lead single, “You Still Got It,” a musical "state of the union," to
"Cold Beer," a bit of mid-winter escapism, and "All I Can Do," about the trial that is
separated love, to songs that indulge Darryl's philosophical edge, including "Things That
I Can't See," "You Never Know," and the title-cut, "One Time Around."
In addition to the lyrical mastery Darryl and his co-writers are known for, this project is
one of his most compelling musically.
"I was real adamant this time about saying, 'Let's let this music be driven by the
groove.' There are times as a listener when it's not the lyrics but that groove, that funky
feel that catches me. I've written a lot through the years with intense subject matter
and messages, but this project, more than anything I've ever done, is for people who
just like stuff about life and love that feels good. It's very real and very personal, and
there are two or three uptempo things on there that I get a bigger kick out of than just
about anything I've ever done."
The record also revisits a few songs Darryl felt had been overlooked in previous
projects. They include fan favorites that didn't get the chance to be singles, including
"Find Me" and "I Need a Breather," and one of his most compelling and beloved songs,
"Slow Dancin’ with a Memory."
“My job as a songwriter,” he says, “is to listen to people and come up with something
they'll relate to.”
It's a journey that took route in Hardin County, Tennessee, among people whose lives
were defined in part by hard work, economic hardship, deep religious conviction and
bootleg liquor. It paid to be tough and smart, and Darryl was both.
He was also musical--his grandfather played banjo and his mother sang in church, and
he took after them. Tall and athletic, Darryl might have earned a sports scholarship to
college, but he lost the opportunity when he broke his back playing basketball. Still, he
earned a degree in biology with a minor in organic chemistry, playing music in honkytonks
all the while. He continued playing as he worked in the chemical business and
taught school for a year, torn between the pressure he felt to establish a secure career
and his deep-seated need to pursue music. Finally, his preacher father helped him sort it
"One day he said, 'If you're still thinking about that music thing you better do it now',"
says Darryl, "'because if you don't, you'll be trapped by the obligation of the debt and
the responsibilities that come with life.' That was all I needed to hear."
A gifted and hard-working songwriter, he signed a deal with Fame Publishing in Muscle
Shoals, Alabama, to write songs for $150 a week. Years of hard living and honky-tonk
nights made their way into his music, and artists like George Jones cut his early work.
He was signed to Nashville's EMI Publishing and in 1994 made his way to Nashville.
After half a decade of sometimes frustrating development deals, in 1999 he earned the
label deal that moved his career into high gear.
It is telling that Darryl was quick to turn the resultant celebrity to good purpose. His
Tennessee River Run is one of the longest-running and most artist-identified charitable
events out there.
"We hit our ten-year mark last year, and it's been an amazing decade," he says. "We've
continued to bring in great entertainment and hold a variety of events for people all
around my home town. We continue to refine it in ways that bring in even more for the
charity, and that's the bottom line."
Darryl was able to make a $200,000 payment to the local cancer treatment center which
bears his name, paying off the debt completely.
He has been a tireless performer for troops here and overseas following a 2002 visit to
Afghanistan, Kuwait and Uzbekistan that helped inspire "Have You Forgotten?" He has
been back nine times since then, playing both full band concerts and special acoustic
sets at remote Forward Operating Bases for troops who rarely receive celebrity
Darryl has been honored with the VFW's Americanism Award, the USO Merit Award and
the U.S. Army Appreciation Award. He has also been cited by the Tennessee House of
Representatives for his contributions to country music.
A dedicated family man, he credits the current stability in his life to wife Kimberly and
“I feel like my wife and baby girl have breathed new life into me,” he says. It's made me
want to be a better man, a better Christian, a better husband, a better role model. I feel
like I've got my priorities in order."
Through it all, his ability to draw on real life to make deeply moving music has made
him one of country's most passionately appreciated artists. With the completion of One
Time Around, Darryl adds to that already rich legacy.