Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 2, 2002

Worley ready to croon country-loving crowds

By Ryan Gueningsman

Although country singer Darryl Worley has no direct connection ­ yet ­ to Winstock, there is a chance he may be booked to perform here next year for its 10th anniversary celebration. He performed at the Martin County Fair in Fairmont Aug. 17 and took some time before his performance for an interview.

Growing up in southwestern Tennessee was not much different than growing up in central Minnesota, country singer Darryl Worley figured.

"I grew up in Hardin County, Tennessee, which is right by the southern border of the state, where the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee all come together," Worley said.

"It's a real rural area ­ my hometown is Savannah ­ and it's just a real laid-back kind of country place, and man, do I miss it ­ it makes me feel good when I get to come to places like this," he said.

Throughout his whole life, growing up along the Tennessee River in Savannah, he had music in his veins.

"When it's on both sides of your family, to that extent, you don't really have an option," Worley said about playing music. "It's in your blood, I guess."

"My Grandpa Jones, who ironically played the banjo, taught us all different cords on a guitar, and my mom was a wonderful singer. Daddy was a minister, and that's where we really started out.

"Our first live performances were right in the church house, and that's a pretty nice audience to have."

Worley "graduated" from the churches to the bars and honky tonks of the area, and continued to get his traditional sound out to people.

Along with performing on stage, Worley also is a noted songwriter.

"I had been writing for a company out of Alabama for about five years, and I decided that I would try to find something in Nashville," he said. "I actually got out of my contract with them sooner than I should have, because I was without a paycheck for about six months."

In that downtime from the music industry, Worley did some odd jobs with his brother, as well as write some more songs and focus on what he really wanted out of the business.

"I'm no stranger to hard work, and that was really good for me. It gave me some time to write more songs, and to think about everything," he said.

Several months later, Worley finally found the deal that was right for him, and signed to EMI Publishing in Nashville on the advice of a friend.

It was in signing that deal that led Worley to the big-time, with his record deal at DreamWorks Records.

"I wasn't really into it at first," Worley said about going for a record deal again. "Because I had done those things so many times, and I felt like I needed to cultivate my songwriting career, because I was starting to think that was the only chance I'd have to make it in the music industry."

The president of DreamWorks, James Stroud, came to Worley's hometown to hear him perform, and that was his big break.

"It's just a tiny airport there, and mostly what you see going out of there is crop dusters. I told him I wasn't sure if it was even big enough for him to land his jet on" Worley recalled laughing.

"But he landed with no problems, and it was funny because they went into the building, and asked the guy there if he could rent a car.

"The guy said, 'Man, you can't rent no cars around here.'

"So they told him they were going to hear Darryl Worley play at the Moose Lodge, and the guy said 'here just take my car,' and threw him the keys, and said 'if I'm not here, just leave the keys in it.'"

Stroud was impressed with Worley and signed him to his label.

After about two years of work, his first album, "Hard Rain Don't Last," was released and produced several hits.

"When You Need My Love," "Second Wind," and his biggest hit off of the album "A Good Day to Run," are a few of the tracks that led to the fan base he has today.

His second album, "I Miss My Friend," was released last month, and features the hit ballad by the same name.

"That song has been amazing for me," Worley said. "The album debuted at number one. That didn't hurt anything. It also had the number one video in the nation for a few weeks.

"It is at number four on the music charts right now, but it's our hopes that it'll make it to the top.

"I'm starting to feel like we might make it, actually," he said.

"We're just hanging in there and going week to week right now. The song "Family Tree" will be the next single and we're working on the video for that right now."

There are many other notable songs on the album, including "Tennessee River Run," and "The Least That You Could Do."

"I don't usually write up-tempo stuff. It's not my style, but I went in one day and said I want to write something fun, and "Tennessee River Run" was what came of that.

"Those were the times of my life," he said. "We're about 100 percent sure that will be the single after 'Family Tree.' That will put it right around spring, and it's a good summer song."

Beyond "I Miss My Friend" Worley plans to keep on writing songs, and touring.

"I'd like to still be involved in music in, say, 10 years, and you have to envision things to reach the goals you want to accomplish," he said. "I see myself doing something like a George Strait tour with about 20 dates in the summer.

"I really feel blessed, and I feel that with the life I've led, I have something worth sayin', and it all comes through in the songs."

"It's not all about the fame and fortune, it's about the music to me," Worley said. "Every bit of this is a dream come true, and a friend of mine always used to say 'the harder I work the luckier I get.'"

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