The Loop

An unauthorized history of John Daly's underrated music career


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April 29, 2016

When John Daly turned 50 on Thursday, we rightly celebrated this long-hitting legend's golf accomplishments. Heck, we celebrated him just lasting this long -- something close friend Fuzzy Zoeller once bet $150,000 against.

But what about his contributions to music? It's an area that has been criminally overlooked.

Until now.

Here's a man who has covered Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" more times than Bob Dylan has played it. He's also likely the only man to perform the classic song in China as a duet with Kenny G. John Daly's music does more than touch the soul. He brings the world a little bit closer.

But Daly is not just a one-man (one song) cover band. He's released two albums of his own and has been a featured artist on a Kid Rock record. In fact, Darius Rucker has collaborated on both of Daly's albums, and nothing says modern country/folk rock credibility than being associated with Hootie & the Blowfish.

Daly's first album, My Life, dropped in 2002. The tracks, particularly the lyrics, are pretty raw as Daly was still developing his songwriting chops. "You don't know me, like I know me. You never walked in my shoes," he croons on the album's second track titled -- you guessed it -- "You Don't Know Me."

But it's this simpleness that translates to brutal honesty, like on the lead track, "I'm Drunk, Dead Broke," in which he sings about boozing and gambling. Or later on "Mr. Fan," in which he laments his golf game not being what it once was:

I'm doing the best I can, Got my eye on the fairway, driver in my hand.
Gonna grip it and rip it, it's what you want me to do.
Wish I could change things, my eyes swell up with tears.
I haven't seen my name on top of the leader board in years.

Eight years later, Daly's golf game had fallen even farther, but his music, oh, his sweet, sweet music reached new heights.

Daly released a second studio album, I Only Know One Way, in 2010, which featured eight songs written or co-written by JD along with yet another cover of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." (We're beginning to see why Zoeller was so convinced Daly wouldn't make it to 50.)

So get ready to bop your head. Get ready to laugh. And even be prepared to cry. Here's our top-five ranking of John Daly's greatest (original) hits:

5. "Wrong Directions"

In this ballad, Daly discusses the mistakes he's made and ponders how to fix them. He makes the sad admission, "I've had too many wives." That's a common theme on his second album. Daly sings a nearly identical line during the song, "I Only Know One Way."

Daly has been married four times. But he hopes he's finally found "the one" in No. 5, Anna Cladakis. He sings about her in the touching "God Sent A Woman."

4. "Lost Soul"

Another downer about personal tragedy and the passing of time; in a way, this is Daly's own "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." It's quite moving. So how does it only have 229 views on YouTube?!!!

3. "Mr. Fan"

Unfortunately, there isn't even a YouTube clip for this one, but you can listen to a sample here. As pointed out with the lyrics above, Daly deftly weaves together his experiences in golf and life. For all his power on the course, JD shows he is at his musical best when he shares this softer side.

2. "Blue Collar Golfer"

This upbeat song sounds like a cross between Hootie and Bruce Horsnby, and shares some of Daly's development as a golfer. "When he was six, people said 'Look at that.' This young kid's got a swing like Jack." Boom.

1. "Hit It Hard"

The title says it all. On or off the course, Daly hits it hard. And the gospel choir answering him during the refrain ("I hit it hard, man" -- HARD!!! "So far, man" -- FAR!!!) puts this one over the top. Please try to tell me this isn't a catchy tune. Seriously, I just downloaded it.

He's also got a message for his fans, one that rings true as he embarks on the next phase of his career on the PGA Tour Champions now that he's made it to 50:

"There's rules I love to break and bend, mistakes I've made again and again, but I tell you this, my friends, I'm still around."

Yes you are, John. And so is your music. Keep on gripping and ripping with the driver -- as well as with the guitar.