Darryl Worley and co-writer Wynn Varble weren’t trying to be politically correct when they wrote “Have You Forgotten?”, an impassioned song that recalled the emotions after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Upon the radio single’s release in 2003, some listeners thought the lyrics were trying to justify a war with Iraq as well, but Worley disagreed.
“That’s not what the song is about,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2003. “The song is posing a question: Have you forgotten what happened to our country on 9/11? That’s pretty much the size of it. People are going to tear it to shreds and try to find a lot of things.”
He added, “It’s kind of like reading the Bible — everybody’s got their own interpretation. We know what we meant by the song. We weren’t trying to be politically correct. We’re trying to put a message out there that in our hearts we felt needed to be said. Even with the people who stand up against the war, and this song for that matter, at least we know we’ve got them thinking about it.”
Striking a chord somewhere between the reflection of Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning”) and the belligerence of Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American),” Worley secured his biggest-ever radio hit with “Have You Forgotten?”, which spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2003. It’s startling, to some degree, to watch the video now and see protest marches and memorials — not uncommon sights in modern news. Worley’s delivery, though, remains as potent as ever.
Talking about day the song was written, Worley also told the Chicago Tribune, “I said to Wynn, `I really feel like we need to write a song together that will honor our troops in some way and lift them up. That’s really what this is about. And at the same time, I felt we could also send out a message. It’s real easy to forget about the kind of thing that happened to us on 9/11. We just wrote the song from the heart, and expressed the way we feel about things.”
Worley stepped away from the music industry shortly after his daughter was born in 2008, but returned in 2019 with a compilation, Second Wind: Latest & Greatest. In addition to a new recording of “Have You Forgotten?”, Worley included new versions of his other No. 1 hits, “Awful, Beautiful Life” and “I Miss My Friend.”