Darryl Worley's song "Have You Forgotten?" attempts to split the patriotic difference between Toby Keith and Alan Jackson, waving the flag while showing some class, to erratic effect. The country star deserves points for rhyming "forgotten" and "bin Laden" (it's certainly better than, say, "income-tax deduction" and "weapons of mass destruction" or "Saddam" and "my mom"), and his dubious decision to directly equate the war in Iraq with 9/11 isn't that big a deal. After all, plenty of Sean Hannity-type pundits have made that argument. Yet Worley's use of the question format employed in Jackson's "Where Were You?" makes his battle justifications seem more than a little whiny, and the powerless-ballad backing he supplies is no help, either. To inspire the troops to kick ass, he should have produced some music that did the same.
Then again, the folks here at home appreciated his efforts enough to turn his timely salvo into an enormous hit, on which Have You Forgotten?, the album, capitalizes. Included on Have You Forgotten? are three new songs: "I Need a Breather," so blatant a Jimmy Buffett ripoff it even mentions margaritas; "I Will Hold My Ground," a generic statement of purpose that the faithful will dig; and "Shiloh," a tune that documents the horrors of the Civil War (apparently Worley is against any conflict in which only Americans die but is more open-minded when foreign nationals are involved). Tossed in are a half-dozen cuts each from his past two albums. Although some of these selections, such as "POW 369," a salute to former captives, seem to have been chosen to accentuate the pro-military theme, most merely introduce Worley's slick, lachrymose brand of homogenized C&W.
This approach has its advantages, no doubt. Still, overtly reactionary stuff generally leaves a more lasting mark. Merle Haggard's "The Fightin' Side of Me" is a full frontal assault on Vietnam War protesters whose key lyrics ("When they're runnin' down my country, hoss/They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me") could be applied to 2003 with nary a change, but its raucous vocals and music are capable of giving even twang-fancying lefties a guilty thrill. As for "Forgotten"? Let's hope it will be -- and soon.