“I was lying in a hospital about 13 months ago,” songwriter Harley Allen recalled, “when I thought, ’I love this crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life.’ Then I reached up and hit the morphine drip again.”
Fortunately, that tag line survived the sedation. Allen took it to Darryl Worley, and the two of them soon finished the lyrics to a song they would call “Awful, Beautiful Life.”
Allen recounted the story behind the song Thursday (Feb. 17) to a crowd that had gathered at the BMI headquarters in Nashville to celebrate “Awful, Beautiful Life” hitting the No. 1 spot on the country charts. Because Worley was playing a show in Louisville, Ky., that same evening, he was unable to attend the celebration.
“Harley Allen is a sensitive, talented songwriter, even though he’s said some strange things to me,” cracked BMI’s Joyce Rice as she contrasted Allen’s thoughtful lyrics with his sometimes brusque and sarcastic manner. Allen’s other hits include “Tough Little Boys” for Gary Allan and “The Little Girl” for John Michael Montgomery.
Barry Coburn, Allen’s publisher, said they had been working together for 11 years and that in listening to the songs Allen brings in, “the surprises are endless … the gratification of hearing magic.”
When Allen’s time came to speak, he grinned, looked out over the crowd and said, “I want to thank my buddies who left the bar early to stop by here. … I love most of you.”