SAVANNAH, TN — Darryl Worley is at peace on his 300-acre farm in rural Southwest Tennessee.
But the rhythm of war is never far from his mind or his music.
Worley strums a few chords from his latest song, “I Just Came Back From a War,” and reflects on how war has affected him.
“It changed me. I mean, it totally rocked me,” Worley said
War inspires words
He first visited and sang for the troops during the war in Afghanistan in 2002.
“When I came home, I just wanted to write a song — I really didn’t know if it would be a song — I just wanted to do something, “ Worley said. “It was an emotional experience; it changed my life.”
From that experience he wrote “Have You Forgotten,” which became a number one hit in 2003. It is a song clearly in defense of the war in Afghanistan. Many also saw it was a rallying cry for the invasion of Iraq.
"I think that song, “Have You Forgotten,” was the voice of a lot of people at that time,” said Worley. “And I think that's why it was a huge hit song."
Worley returned to Afghanistan and later visited troops in Iraq, performing “Have You Forgotten” and his other hits, including “I Miss My Friend”and“Awful, Beautiful Life.”He’s been to the Middle East three times this year and will be part of another USO show in December.
Encouraging empathy for returning soldiers
During these trips, Worley spends a lot of time shaking hands and signing autographs for soldiers.
Over and over he heard the same story from soldiers that when they returned home, their friends said they were different, more distant.
“I got to thinking, ‘God, how many of these stories have I heard?’ And there’s a lot of them,” Worley said.
That’s what gave him the idea for his newest song.
“I was in the shower one day and I thought what a strong line — what a thought that is — to just say ‘You know, I just came back from a war.’”
“I Just Came Back From a War” is a ballad about a soldier coming home from war a changed man. It’s the first single released from Worley’s new CD, “Here and Now.”
Worley sings: “I just came back from a place where they hated me and everything I stand for/ A land where our brothers are dying for others who don’t even care anymore.”
The lyrics, co-written by Wynn Varble, who also co-wrote “Have You Forgotten,” tell the struggles of a proud war veteran: “Chances are I never will be the same / I really don’t know anymore/ I just came back from a war.”
Worley says the song is about compassion, understanding and patience for soldiers returning home.
“To ask these people to go off to war, and experience the things you experience when you’re involved in a war, and come back home and be the same guy and gal they were when you left, that’s not going to happen,” Worley said. “I just hope that maybe that song will make a few people sit up and take notice and be a little more compassionate”
Lyrics speak to soldiers
And the lyrics ring true for soldiers like Carlos Morales, who feels that home is the same, but he isdifferent.
"It's emotional changes, it's all kinds of changes,” Morales said, as he was waiting alone for a plane to take him back to Iraq. “Once you see what's going on, it has to affect you. If it's not, you're a nut."
Worley’s song is climbing the country music charts.
"This is a very different song from ‘Have You Forgotten,’” said Chris Huff, Music Director at KSCS-FM in Dallas.
"[The songs] are very similar in that they do mirror the mood, but the mood has changed; so the songs are very different,” Huff said.
Hoping for a ‘warmer welcome’ for soldiers
Back on his Tennessee farm, Worley wants to make it clear that his new song is not in any way political.
“To me this song doesn't reflect any change of position as far as where I stand,” he said. “I don't necessarily know that anybody cares what I think about all that; I hope not.
"There's so much sacrifice. If we can see that for what it is and try to understand - some of the things these people are having to deal with, maybe when they return home, it'll be a little warmer welcome."
See more on the Darrly Worley website.
“I Just Came Back From a War” lyrics courtesy of 903 Music.
By: Darryl Worley/Wynn Varble
The first thing I did when that plane finally landed was kiss the groundThe next thing I didwas go do go find my friendsdown at the old hangoutWe drank some beer and talked a lot about old timesBut when the booze finally hit Billy Joe Grimeshe said ‘I don’t know what it isbut you seem different to me.’
I said I just came backFrom a place where they hated meAnd everything I stand forA land where our brothers Are dying for othersWho don’t even care anymoreIf I’m not exactly the same good old boyThat you ran around with beforeI just came back from a war
The very next morning I took a walk through the neighborhoodI thought it’s been so longsince I’ve been in a place where everything is goodPeople laughing and children were playingAnd as I watched themI found myself prayin’Lord, keep ‘em safe here at homeIn the land of the free
Cause I just came backFrom a place where they hated meAnd everything I stand forA land where our brothers Are dying for othersWho don’t even care anymoreIf I’m not the same little freckled-faced boyThat grew up in that house next doorI just came back from a war
I hope you cherish this sweet way of lifeAnd I hope you knowthat it comes with a priceI said I just came backFrom a place where they hated meAnd everything I stand forA land where our brothers Are dying for othersWho don’t even care anymoreChances are I never will be the same anymoreI really don’t know anymoreI just came back from a war
I just came back from a warYou don’t know meYou don’t know meI just came back from a war