"Well 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.

Art 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 of pills."

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 the Devil.

That journey 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."


Watson appeared 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 dialect.

"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 for cancer.

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 Terri."


"She 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.

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.

"Johnny 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."


The singing actor's recovery enabled him to record 2006 album Whiskey Or God that included Oklahoma transvestite truckie tune Trucking Queen.

"If I did a video for that album it would have been that," Watson confided.

"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.)

The album 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.


Satirical 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," Watson added.

"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 near Austin.

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 concert show.

Watson also appeared in the movie On The Borderline.


Watson 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 Willis.

"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."

Ironically, 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 Roberts.

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 Bruce Robison.

"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."


Watson 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."


But it's 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 28.

Tickets $38.50 + booking fee from Polyester, Missing Link, Greville, Prince of Wales
Phone 03 - 9536 1168 or www.princebandroom.com.au

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