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Darryl Worley Talks About His Steadfast Beliefs, ‘God and Country’ and Working With the Grascals

Darryl Worley
Courtesy of Darryl Worley

It is well known in the country world that Darryl Worley is one of the most generous stars out there. Worley is involved in numerous charities, including his own Darryl Worley Foundation, which donates money and services to the area in Western Tennessee where he grew up and now resides. As Taste of Country interviews Worley, the baritone musician’s genuine, giving nature really shines through — Worley pauses the interview for a few moments to go and help a woman whose car has broken down on the side of the road.

Worley, who is performing at the WGNA Taste of Country Winter Concert tomorrow, explains, “You know, we’re way out here in the middle of nowhere, so when I see ladies broken down on the side of the road, I can’t help but stop and ask if they need help.” As the interview goes on, the ever-gracious Worley speaks about his strong personal beliefs, his collaboration with the Grascals, his latest EP, ‘God and Country,’ and being a dad.

What is your favorite part of performing live?
It’s just a different way to connect with your audience. Over the years, we’ve put together a pretty good show. It gives us an opportunity to go out and do what we really love to do. That’s the reason that most of us got into it, to enjoy those few minutes that we get to spend on the stage. It’s just a cool thing. I like all aspects of the business — I love the writing probably as much as anything. But over the years, we’ve done a lot of traveling and we’ve had a lot of success and we’ve been very blessed. So when we get the opportunity to play for our fans, it always makes us happy.

You were just featured on the new Grascals album on two tracks. How did that collaboration come about?
Well, I’ve just known those guys for a long time, since they got going and stuff. I love what they do — obviously it is a very earthy kind of traditional bluegrass. They’ve always kind of been hooked up with Dolly Parton, and I’m a huge fan of hers. So I just know those guys, and when they got ready to do this stuff, they got in touch and asked if I would have any interest, and I said, “Of course I would love to collaborate with you guys, do whatever.” Just because I don’t think you can go wrong with those guys. They’re solid as a rock, and I think they’re gonna be around forever. It was just a fun thing for me to do — to have a chance to do something fun with some other guys that I’ve always known and respected. So we said, “Yeah we’ll do it,” and it turned out great!

One of the songs you recorded with the Grascals is ‘I Am Strong,’ and part of the video for that song was filmed in the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Well, I think that’s another one of the reasons that [the Grascals] called me on this, because I try to go over once, sometimes twice a year and visit the children to just keep an eye on what’s going on over there and see if there’s anything that we can do. And we also donate money to St. Jude’s from [the Darryl Worley Foundation], from the Tennessee River Run and from several other charities that I work with. So we’ve been trying to be very supportive of them over the years. I know the Grascals are aware of that and all of our charity work, so I know when they were thinking about getting me to come be a part of it, they probably thought about that some.

I also saw that you recently opened the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center.
Yeah, right here in our hometown, little town of Savannah, Tenn. We have a lot of people affected by cancer, so it’s a real blessing to be able to see that happen. It’s taken several years, but it happened a whole lot faster than I thought it would.

Your latest EP, ‘God and Country,’ features an acoustic version of your song ‘Have You Forgotten.’ That song has received some criticism over the years, but you don’t seem to let that affect you. What is going through your mind when you respond to people’s negative comments?

Well, I would have to say that I think the negativity on that song has been pretty minimal. Not to say that we didn’t have some people that said, “Oh, you’re a war hog,” or this and that. It’s real easy to read something into a song, but that song was written about something as basic and simple as anybody could possibly write a song. Any time that I write something where there might be differing opinions about the subject matter, I put it out there because it’s our right as the American people to have our own opinions and to feel the way we feel about things. I don’t care about the rebuttal. Anybody who wants to come at me that’s fine, because I’m prepared to defend myself. I mean, I don’t like that kind of stuff — I don’t try to get people stirred up just for the fun of it.

Ya know, I have people call or text me and respond to my Facebook or Twitter and say things about the 9/11 thing — [that it] was an inside job and that our own government planned it out. To me, I don’t know what wacky website these people are going to get this kind of stuff, but you can go out and find out whatever you want to, and that’s the truth of it. And I feel like I’m smart enough to go out and get my facts in place where I can count on it. And you know, to each his own. Go out there and be who you want to be, but I won’t let affect me in a negative way.

You’ve already been to Iraq eight times. Are you planning another visit any time soon?
We will go again as soon as the opportunity arises. Ya know, I don’t know that we haven’t been there more than that. I heard someone say the last trip was number nine [laughs]! We’ll probably go again some time this year. We almost always do. Last year, we went earlier in the year than we normally travel overseas — we went in April or May I think, last year. But I’m sure the phone will ring before too long, and somebody will be planning a trip. We may wind up going back again this year when Christmas rolls around. It’s just a rewarding trip. We got a big blessing out of going that time of the year and seeing those guys and gals.

It also must be rewarding raising your daughter, Savannah.
I’m telling you, [my wife and I] have more fun with her — that’s the only thing in my life that totally overrides any other impulse. I’d give up anything that I love to do to spend time with her.

Do you have any pet peeves?
I only have one pet peeve, if you want to call it that. I get worked up when I see people maybe picking on somebody that might not be able to defend themselves. The last thing that really got on me real bad was [when] there was a young, handicapped child who was in the airport. He was in a wheel chair, and I saw some other — I couldn’t really say if they were of age or not, but they probably were, and they were making fun of this kid. I got made fun of a lot when I was a kid, just about being real, real skinny and stuff like that. Kids are ruthless, and it’s always something that stuck in my craw. So I went over to them and I gave them a pretty good talking to. I said, “You should be so ashamed of yourselves. I hope this haunts you for several days [laughs].” And that’s the only real thing that sets me off. I don’t get into other people’s business. I try to stick to myself and take care of my own. But I will step out on a limb if I see somebody being mistreated or abused and they don’t have the means to stand up for themselves. I think it’s just a horrible human trait, so I told them that.

I bet your fathering instincts kicked in, too.
[Laughs] Well, I don’t know what is gonna happen when she’s a little older … I almost dread it.

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