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Patriot Games

  Darryl Worley: Have You Forgotten?


Dreamworks, 2002

Rating: 1.5


Posted: May 27, 2003

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Editor-in-Chief

Worley, a promising practitioner of modern country whose genial persona recalls such likable good ol' boys as Randy Travis, Clint Black and Tim McGraw, succumbs to a different set of influences on this crass, opportunistic quickie: namely, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. "Have You Forgotten?," the song, is a blatant tug for the heartstrings of any red-blooded American who knows the lyrics to Lee Greenwood's sap-oozing "God Bless the U.S.A." by heart. As post-9/11 songs go, it's not as in-your-face offensive as Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," but it's perhaps all the more insidious for its subtlety. "I hear people saying we don't need this war," he begins, before going on to ask: "Have you forgotten how it felt that day/ to see your homeland under fire/ and her people blown away?" The implication that people who oppose war in Iraq (or the earlier war in Afghanistan) must not remember the multiple attacks on American soil is ill-informed and narrow-minded at best, and aggressively jingoistic at worst.

That this sentiment will undoubtedly play well with the Fox News watching hordes of country music fans makes it a no-brainer career move: "Have You Forgotten?" is a canny piece of marketing of the "Okee From Muskogee" variety, a simplistic anthem of insensitivity to opposing points of view. And make no mistake: Marketing is exactly what Have You Forgotten?, the album, amounts to. Given that 12 of its 16 tracks are culled from Worley's previous two albums, 2000's Hard Rain Don't Last and 2002's I Miss My Friend, the record's title takes on a whole new meaning. Either Worley's afraid that the record-buying public has forgotten him (which would explain the need to cash in with a quick and timely pro-war tune), or he's hoping that audiences won't remember (or care) that the disc is 75% recycled content.

It's hardly fair to assign a rating to an album comprised almost entirely of filler, but then, it's not exactly fair to present such a package as a rightful album just to sell a piece of cynical, if heartfelt, "dissent equals treason" propaganda. Not fair to consumers, not fair to the millions of people who care about the safety of U.S. troops even while they disagree with the decisions of their government, and ultimately unfair to country music as a whole. To insinuate, as "Have You Forgotten?" does, that speaking out against the aggressive actions of George Bush's administration is tantamount to a lack of respect or empathy for the victims of terrorism and our own servicemen, is not only insulting to those with differing points of view; it only serves to reinforce the stereotype of country music as the twangy, "Fergit, Hell" opiate of the trailer park-dwelling, White Trash masses. No, Darryl, I haven't forgotten the condescending view so many Americans take of country music. Have you?

As I write this, it's Memorial Day, a day set aside to commemorate the sacrifices of those who have died in service to our country. The Darryl Worleys and Toby Keiths of the world would seem to assert that you're not entitled to do so unless you march in lock step with the people giving those troops their orders. The actions of country music stars such as Worley, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt (who accused the Dixie Chicks of "cowardice" for speaking out against Bush) and, sadly, even Clint Black (of whom I've long been a fan, and whose wrongheaded "Iraq and Roll" treads the same ground as Worley's tune), ironically enough, recall nothing so much as the title of an album by outspoken rapper Ice-T: "Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say." I think the best way to honor those who've given their lives in defense of our freedoms is to recognize that that's not one of the sentiments they signed on to fight and die for.

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Archived Editorials
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November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
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September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
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November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
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