Interview: Darryl Worley Revels in His Roots on ‘Runnin” [Exclusive Premiere]
When Darryl Worley set out to record the songs for Second Wind: Latest & Greatest, a new collection of greatest hits and previously unreleased tracks, his first move was to head into the studio with the band he's been performing with more than a decade.
"Those guys have been playing these songs for 15 years," Worley tells The Boot, "and I said, 'Man, we could potentially go in and cut 10 or 12 tracks in one day,' which is exactly what we did."
The end result delivered a lived-in, live show-inflected performance of some of Worley's most iconic hits. "Obviously it's not the same thing as going in with the A studio players that do nothing but that," he adds, "but I think that's what I'm loving about the music, is that people are gonna hear just a little bit more of a polished version of what they would hear if they came to the live show."
Not only will fans get a front-row seat to each band member's signature style and licks, but the new recordings spotlight the evolution these tracks have undergone since they first came out, as the result of hundreds of live performances.
"Even after 10 years, they're still changing things up here and there," Worley points out. "It's obviously the same song, and there are some things that are identical. But then you'll hear sprinklings and seasonings and spice that I don't think was there in the original version, and, for me, it sounds very fresh and very original."
Alongside those eight re-recorded hits, Second Wind features seven brand-new tracks, including "Runnin'," which is premiering exclusively for readers of The Boot. Though it was written years after many of the project's songs, the track pulls on the same country roots that inspired Worley's early hits.
"It has a little bit of a country shuffle to it. The guys were kinda debating on whether to take it out and straighten the song, but it was like, 'Man, I don't know. I think that is the song,'" Worley explains of the track, which he co-wrote with songwriters Ed Hill and Billy Lawson, the latter of whom also shared producer duties with Worley on Second Wind.
In fact, "Runnin'" ends with a nod to Merle Haggard, a country music idol of Worley's. "He had a song called "Running Kind," so I put a line in there that's like, 'I guess I'm just the running kind,'" he reveals. "That was sort of my little throwback tribute to him, because I was crushed when he passed away. I mean, golly. I had been a Haggard fan since day one."
In another respect, the new material on Second Wind reaches back to yet another element of the singer's roots. Worley has always had a deep love for country music, but early in his career, he worked as a songwriter at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., under legendary producer and publisher Rick Hall. As he began to compile new material for this record, Worley decided to cut some of the tracks with the Muscle Shoals Swampers, the session players who'd worked at FAME during his tenure there.
"We used them on a lot of our tracks, and it shows," he goes on to say. "I hear that in the music. It's just laid back. It's a little funky. Everything has a very fat groove, and that's one of the things I was after."
Chasing that sound isn't a new idea for Worley: "See, I had this idea early on in my career to cut some of those really funky, almost R&B tracks, and put my super country voice on them. I thought, 'Man, that'd really be distinctly different and unique,'" he recalls. "But I got to Nashville, and they said, 'Oh, no, man, you can sing like Merle Haggard or Keith Whitley, you need to be doing this.' And I love that stuff, so it wasn't a stretch for me. I was just trying to reinvent the wheel before I needed to, I guess."
There's no mistaking it: Worley is a traditional-minded artist. That doesn't mean there's no room for modern flair on Second Wind, however; in fact, the single, "Whiskey Makes Me Think About You," includes a line about emojis. ("Emotions and emojis / I know I overload you," the lyrics read.)
"I think [Lawson], my co-writer, was really instrumental in coming up with some of those key words or phrases that would put it in a more modern package," Worley admits, cracking up. "I have to give him credit for the whole emojis thing, because I don't think I would have ever said that in my whole life. I don't even know how to find those on my phone now.
"I used to send the 'poop' one on an old phone. If something was B.S. to me, I'd just send that one back," he clarifies. "So that's one I have used, but I wouldn't know how to [do it on the phone I have] now."
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