Unless Daryl Mosley is on the road touring, he spends the majority of time hanging out in Waverly, Tennessee. It’s a quaint, Mayberryesque community just west of Nashville where he grew up. As a songwriter, it’s the perfect nest for inspiring ideas – real, salt-of-the-earth people living day to day life with all the joys and sorrow that come with it.
One Of The Finest Songwriters In Our Business
Songwriting legend Jerry Salley says Mosley is “easily one of the finest songwriters in our business”. Daryl has had seven #1 songs, received three song of the year awards, and was awarded Songwriter of the Year twice by the IBMA. He was a member of the bluegrass band, New Tradition until 2001 when he joined the legendary Osborne Brothers. In 2010 he formed the band, The Farm Hands, where he’s been until recently. In 2020 he decided to venture out on a solo career.
While Daryl Mosley is now celebrated as one of Bluegrass music’s top rated songwriters, he didn’t actually start out that way. “It’s kind of funny how it all worked out,” Daryl told me recently. “I live about five miles from Loretta Lynn. I’ve known the family my whole life. When I was a teenager, Miss Loretta knew that I was interested in a music career. And she was the very first one that encouraged me to pursue songwriting. I’ll never forget what she said to me. She said, ‘Don, you gotta learn to write songs. A lot of folks can sing them, but the good ones can write them, too.’ And so with that encouragement, I started trying to figure out how songs were built, and started trying to focus a lot more on the writing process.”
The impact of who she and her music was on the country music industry wasn’t lost on the young Daryl. “I went to school with Peggy and Patsy, her twin daughters,” Daryl recalled. We met in first grade, that’s how far back this goes. So I was aware that she was a country star, but to be honest, I never saw her as the icon that I later understood her to be. When I was singing with the Osborne Brothers and working with the Grand Ole Opry, Loretta would show up to the Opry, and there was just this buzz backstage. All the other artists, I mean, big major country stars were like, ‘Is she here yet?’ It was like waiting on the queen. Truly. That’s when I began to realize, at a different level, the true significance of this woman’s career.”
Daryl said being in music as a career is something he’s always known he wanted to do. “I was always about trying to learn to play instruments and be a better singer and that sort of thing,” he said. “But, I found myself wandering into the Bluegrass world because of a mutual friend who introduced me to the music. We put a little band together to play some of the local contests, and then while we were rehearsing for one of those contests, a record company guy happened to be there and heard us. We ended up getting a record deal and things just kind of began to snowball. So much of that was just, happenstance, and good luck I guess, but it was always what I wanted, it was always what I was looking at pursuing.”
The songwriting aspect of his career was a natural progression of the career path, and almost came initially out of necessity. “That was the funny part about it,” Daryl said. “When I was with New Tradition, that was the first touring band I was ever with, when we needed a song, I would just write one. The process, pretty much from the early days, came kind of easy for me. Of course, I look back on those songs now, some of the songs didn’t hold up very well, and some held up really well. From the very beginning days of touring, songwriting and creating the music that we were performing was always really important to me.”
Daryl said it took him a while to fully appreciate the depth of his knack for writing songs. “I used to not give songwriting a lot of thought,” he mused. “We needed a song, so I’d write one. I just assumed anybody could do this. I just assumed that every band had an artist cranking out these songs for them. It was later on, when we were out performing, that other writers would come up wanting to talk to me about the writing process. I would get invited to be on songwriter panels, to discuss the writing process. And I started realizing that, for some people, it’s not as natural for them as it was for me. So when I reached that point, I really buckled down and said, ‘you know what, songwriting is really part gift and park craft. Obviously, the good Lord has blessed me with the gift, but the craft part belongs to me. So I’ve got to work to be as good of a songwriter as I can possibly be.”
Daryl is now at the place in his life where it’s time to pursue a solo career. “Being a solo artist was never really something that I wanted, nor something I was avoiding,” he said. “It just wasn’t something that was high on my priority list. I was happy in a band, and I enjoy the camaraderie of touring together with other people. But the older I get, the more that the importance of songwriting moves continuously higher and higher on my priority list. So it’s really about my desire to create the best songs I can, and to try to create a legacy of really good songs. So I needed more time, and wanted more time to do that. Of course, the guys that I was traveling with, they’re all great musicians, but they weren’t songwriters. So it didn’t make sense to slow them down so that I could pursue this a little bit more diligently. So I stepped out on my own back in 2019, and it’s been good. It’s worked out really well.”
Daryl’s latest album, Small Town Dreamer, is his sophomore project as a solo artist.
By Greg Tutwiler