Texas singer, performing in Springfield Thursday, rebounds from profound loss

Aaron Watson’s “Real Good Time” is perhaps the most successful of his 11 albums to date, debuting in the Top 10 on the Billboard country albums chart.

But it also followed what was perhaps the most trying time of his life. And its birth came from a song written to the late bull riding champion Lane Frost’s mother.

“It’s been a blessing to my family, both on a business side and on a personal side,” Watson said during a recent telephone interview. The Texas singer performs Thursday at Boondocks (see information at end of this article for details.)

Now’s not a bad time for a little good news for the singer who, despite a lack of big hit singles, has had three albums reach the Top 30 on the Billboard country albums chart.

Around the time Watson was supposed to start working on “Real Good Time,” he and his wife lost their daughter, Julia Grace, soon after she was born.

“It was a pretty tough time. Life’s tough. It’s part of the way things happen. We all endure that, these things … losing loved ones. It’s hard to find someone in the population that hasn’t lost a loved one,” Watson said.

Watson admits his occupation got in the way of grieving.

“It’s a tough job because you are supposed to get up on stage and sing and put on a show for all these people having a good time when deep down inside you are brokenhearted,” he said.

Watson struggled with the music, writing new songs, and performing because he wanted to be back home with his wife and three sons in Abilene, Texas. Two or months passed and he knew he had to get back to working on a new album so he could take care of his family. But, “I just couldn’t do it to save my life,” he said.

Personal pressure piled on and studio sessions continued to be pushed back because of a lack of preparation.

“And one day I just hung up my guitar and said, ‘God, if this is what you want me to do for a living, I could sure use your help,’” the deeply religious Watson said.

Finding inspiration

Several weeks later he and the family had a good Sunday together. They went to church, spent time together, he and his wife put their children to bed, and she soon followed. So Watson had his usual evening cup of coffee, and began re-watching “8 Seconds,” the 1994 Luke Perry movie about bull riding champion Lane Frost whose life was cut short during a competition.

“I was kind of watching the movie through a different set of eyes. Now that I had lost a child I felt kind of more compassion, more touched, by the ending of the movie thinking about Lane’s mom and dad,” Watson said.

He then read some things Frost’s mother had written about him, and her words touched Watson late that night — specifically that although Frost was a world champion bull rider, his “greatest achievement” came a year before he died, when he became a Christian.

“I believe that was something that God intended for me to read that evening,” Watson said.

He felt the desire to write Frost’s mother a song. So he took down his guitar and began to write, and the song — “July in Cheyenne” — sort of wrote itself. He then realized the writer’s block had passed.

“To me that was an answered prayer,” he said.

Despite his grief, the album soon came together, and Watson’s band urged him to include “July in Cheyenne” on “Real Good Time.”

He’s back on tour, making his first visit to Springfield, and planning his next album, titled “Underdog.” He said he hopes he can build in the success of “Real Good Time.”

“It’s just fun. It started in all these little hole in the wall bars. I love music, and I love people. I give God the glory, and we have a lot of fun,” Watson said of his career so far. “ … I haven’t found an easier way to pay the bills yet. I’ll stick to this for now.”

Article: The State Journal-Register