DIARY - 21 FEBRUARY 2007 - DALE WATSON
WATSON SEEKS JUSTICE IN SONG
they say I went crazy, by crazy I mean mentally insane/ had a world where
I still had you, and I wish I was crazy again." - I Wish I Was
Crazy Again - Dale Watson.
imitated life for singing Texan actor Dale Watson when he was cast
to star with David Carradine in Texas movie Austin Angel.
Director Zalman King decided Watson's tragic life was worthy of a
documentary and made it first.
Watson, 44 and three times wed, had just lost his fiancee - a lawyer
- in a car accident in September of 2000 and tried to kill himself
on New Year's Eve with "two bottles of whiskey and a fistful
The guilt-ridden singer, who argued with Terri Herbert earlier on
the eve of her crash, exorcised his grief by buying an Ouija board
to contact the spirit of his late fiancée.
His psychic experience on his 2002 European tour with his band The
Lone Stars had him believing he was a messenger of God duelling with
involved Watson preaching on a Glasgow railway station after a concert
and then waiting outside the Vatican for three days in a vain bid to meet
the Pope with a message from God.
"People who go through loss can identify with it," Watson told
Nu Country on the eve of his fifth Australian tour that includes concerts
at Cherry Bar on Tuesday February 27 and Prince Of Wales Hotel in St Kilda
on Wednesday February 28.
"I went to an insane asylum (St. David's Pavilion) in Austin. I also
wrote I Wish I Was Crazy Again that was used in the documentary
Crazy Again. It was also on my recent album Whiskey or God.
There were so many songs I wrote during that time."
Watson also wrote an entire album Every Song I Write Is For You
(2001) to his late fiancee as part of his healing process.
But the father of two daughters, 15 and 8, turned negativity into a positive
after being rescued from his suicide attempt at the Town Lake Holiday
Inn in Austin by his tour manager Donny Knutson.
"I was never more peaceful than that time before going there (the
asylum)," Watson revealed.
"I was at peace with myself and everything I was going through and
feeling. I created a world in my mind where we were still together, and
it was magical."
THING CALLED LOVE
with Sandra Bullock in the 1993 movie The Thing Called Love - the
last movie for the late River Phoenix whom he taught to speak in a Texan
"River and I hit it off and they didn't have a dialect coach so I
taught him the East Texan drawl for his character," Watson recalled.
"James Intveld was also in the movie. He also directed my new video
- he's one of my best friends. We have known each other 20 years. We play
in each other's bands - he was filming with River. John Jorgenson, who
was playing guitar in the band, had to do a recording session with Bob
Seger. So the had me in the movie instead."
Kevin Welch, Pam Tillis, K T Oslin, Trisha Yearwood and diverse Nashville
artists featured in the movie that was based on the famed Bluebird Café.
Shooting for Austin Angel was delayed because director King (9
1/2 Weeks and Red Shoe Diaries) has been having chemotherapy
Watson was cast in Austin Angel as a country singer who sells his soul
to the devil to save his daughter.
"We were in pre-production for Austin Angel when director
Zalman ended up getting cancer and having chemotherapy," Watson revealed.
"Instead I became the subject of Crazy Again. The director
was intrigued by the story. To say it was a nervous breakdown is not fair.
It was amazing journey I went through in 2002 after the loss of my girlfriend
THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE
said it's wrong to kill this man/ even if he's killed your child/ strike
a blow for justice hear the gavel fall/ pray for the innocent, justice
for all." - Justice For All - Dale Watson.
bounced back with his 14th album From The Cradle To The Grave
on Hyena Records.
He wrote the album in a Tennessee cabin, owned by fellow actor Johnny
Knoxville, and once the retreat of the late Johnny Cash.
"We're trying to do an early release in Australia during the
tour or just after it," says Watson.
"It's the highest profile album I have made."
Watson shot the video last week for new single Justice For All
in Los Angeles with Desperate Housewives star James Denton
- childhood sweetheart of country singer Deanna Carter.
Denton, a part time guitarist and singer, was the lead in the clip
directed by Intveld.
Knoxville, who also played the late Gram Parsons' body snatcher in
the Grand Theft Parsons movie, missed out on his video cameo.
Knoxville got held up at the airport," Dale revealed of the song
inspired by a real life revenge killing that he saw on television.
"James Denton played the avenging father whose child was killed but
the guy gets off on technicalities and father grabs the jailer's gun and
shoots the guy. He's sentenced to death and is vilified by the state.
So it's not justice at all - but in their eyes it is."
singing actor's recovery enabled him to record 2006 album Whiskey
Or God that included Oklahoma transvestite truckie tune Trucking
"If I did a video for that album it would have been that,"
"It's such a funny song - nothing serious.
There's no way I could do it now with the new album out but I sure
would have loved to do it. Yes, it was reminiscent of CB Savage (a
Rod Hart parody of C W McCall's huge hit Convoy.)
on Palo Duro included heartache tunes It Hurts So Good and I
Ain't Been Right, Since I've Been Left to It Hurts So Good
and Tequila and Teardrops.
I Ain't Been Right Since I've Been Left is fiddle- and steel-guitar-driven
song, with flavors of zydeco music.
The horn-driven, Latin-flavored Tequila and Teardrops also deals
with a ruptured romance.
It followed holiday album Christmas in Texas (2001) and Live
in London, England (2002).
In 2004 he released Dreamland, produced by Ray Benson of Asleep
at the Wheel.
Watson broke in Australia with his debut Hightone solo disc Cheatin'
Heart Attack in 1995.
songs Nashville Rash and A Real Country Song were a staple
for the singer who cut Blessed or Damned in 1996 and I Hate
These Songs in 1997.
"I prefer to sing about these artists while they're still alive and
performing and recording great music and not after they're dead,"
"They need us when they're still alive performing great music. It's
important not to forget them when they're still around because we're not
going to have them much longer. They paid their dues and deserve to be
heard. If we don't respect and foster their talent the roots of country
will just wilt and disappear."
Watson also filmed a jail scene in the video for Folsom Prison Blues
for the late Johnny Cash's compilation disc Rebels And Outlaws.
Ironically, Dale was filmed as a prisoner in the same infamous Dallas
jail cell that housed Lee Harvey Oswald - the JFK assassin slain by Texas
nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
Jack Ruby was one of the last promoters to book Hank Williams in Austin
before he died at 29 in the back of a Cadillac en route to a gig in Canton,
Ohio, on New Years Day in 1953.
Watson's The Truckin' Sessions was devoted entirely to the country
sub-genre of truck driving songs.
Watson recorded fifth album, People I've Known, Places I've Been (1999)
at three studios including Shotgun Willie Nelson's country club at Pedernales
He was also a major character in much lauded BBC series Naked Nashville,
screened here by the ABC, that preceded his appearance on the Studio 22
Watson also appeared in the movie On The Borderline.
was also one of the key players in cheating songs disc Wandering
Eyes - Songs Of Forbidden Love on quaintly named Texan record
label Lazy Son Of A Bitch with Ted Roddy, Rosie Flores and Kelly
"It was a labour of love, recording songs with friends,"
Watson said at the time.
"It was mainly songs by acts such as Mel Street and Moe Bandy
and put together by Asleep At The Wheel drummer David Sanger who
has played on my last two albums. I recorded an original song, The
Unspoken Kind, which I wrote about four years ago. It was inspired
by a true situation, I don't want to say who it was about."
Watson wrote one of his early radio favourites Caught after
the National Enquirer sprung Willis leaving an Austin motel room
with singing actor Lyle Lovett when he was still married to Julia
So was there
also some irony in Watson singing the Moe Bandy hit, It's A Cheating
Situation, with Willis - long time wife of lauded Austin singer-songwriter
"You know I didn't even put that together until you just mentioned
that," Watson replied, "I guess it's pretty ironic. I guess
it's just a slice of life."
moved to Baltimore last year for six months to be with his daughters
and third ex-wife Nicki.
"My ex-wife moved back to Baltimore because her family are there
and I'm on the road so much," Watson revealed.
"She really needed the help. I wanted to support them, they're
15 and 8 now. They're very good. Kids are so resilient - you hear
that but when they're your own kids you've got to make sure. I realised
they were settling in so I did maintenance on their house - porches,
fences, painting and air conditioning. I applied for a job as a UPS
driver but I was hoping music wasn't gone for good.
I have made
14 albums but two were never released. Some were only released in Europe.
I made an earlier one for Warner Sire that was never released and another
for Audium with Lloyd Green. We never got as far as a working title."
Watson, born in Alabama, cut his first singles in 1981 and hopes to reprise
his writing while in Australia.
He wrote Road Train with Red Rivers and Prime Mover with
former promoter Keith Glass on a previous trip.
"It's always a good source for songs," Watson says.
"The outback inspired some songs. There are prime movers and road
trains like nowhere else on earth."
WEDDING IN AUSTIN
love - not death - that is making life easier for Watson.
He weds his new fiancee - an acupuncturist named Kelsey from Duluth, Minnesota
on May 6.
"Yes, I'm getting married again," Watson confessed on the eve
of his concert with his band Lone Stars.
"We're getting married here on the river on Town Lake. I like to
watch the bats fly up from bridge at dusk. I met Kelsey in Austin. There
had to be somebody special in my life after I lost my girlfriend. She
loves me, it's the same intense love but it's different - very special."
Ironically the wedding locale is a stone country throw from where Watson
tried to kill himself.
An unlikely guest is another Dale Watson - an FBI executive.
As the first assistant director of the FBI's counter-terrorism division,
Dale Watson headed the investigation into the September 11 attacks.
"We're pretty much cousins," Watson joked.
"I wonder how much mail he gets of mine. I don't get any of his -
I hope I never do.
Thank God there's none of his email in my inbox."
Watson and his band The Lone Stars perform with Melbourne group The Detonators
at the Prince Of Wales on his Seven Year Itch tour on Wednesday February
Tickets $38.50 + booking fee from Polyester, Missing Link, Greville, Prince
Phone 03 - 9536 1168 or www.princebandroom.com.au
/ back to diary