On Monday 4 August 2008, Sean & Lisa Brady met up with Gene Watson for a chat during his tour of Northern Ireland; the conversation concentrated on Gene Watson’s music and his career in country music, past, present & future…
Prior to Sean and Lisa Brady’s meeting, Gene Watson and The Farewell Party Band had graced the stage at the first UTV Country Festival in Dungannon Park, Moy Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland on Saturday 2 August 2008 and Sunday 3 August 2008.
Lisa and Sean Brady had the pleasure of attending UTV Country Festival on Sunday 3 August 2008 and enjoyed a feast of country music from Moore & Moore, Vernon Oxford, Stonewall Jackson (Sunday 6 November 1932 – Saturday 4 December 2021), Nanci Caroline Griffith (Monday 6 July 1953 – Friday 13 August 2021), and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.
However, the artist Sean and Lisa Brady were really there to see and hear perform was Gene Watson, a man who has stayed true to the heart of traditional country music for the best part of forty years. Gene Watson was outstanding and was easily the star attraction at the festival.
The Farewell Party Band (Corky Owens on steel guitar, Woody Woodruff on lead guitar, Todd Hines on drums, Steve Nelson on piano and Staley Rogers on bass guitar) are a crack team of musicians and ably assisted fellow Farewell Party Band member Clinton Gregory when they graced the stage between 4:25pm and 4:35pm.
When he delivered two classic Merle Haggard (Tuesday 6 April 1937 – Wednesday 6 April 2016) songs, ‘The Bottle Let Me Down’ (written by Merle Haggard) and ‘A Place to Fall Apart’, which was written by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Freddy Powers (Tuesday 13 October 1931 – Tuesday 21 June 2016), Clinton Gregory proved that he needed to re-enter the recording studios soon in order to give his fans a new album.
Following Clinton Gregory‘s all-too-brief showcase of songs, Gene Watson stepped onstage to rapturous applause and effortlessly worked his way through his wonderful brand of traditional country music in a set which began at 4:35pm and continued through to 5:50pm.
It’s true to say that traditional country music is safe in Gene Watson’s hands as exemplified by his strong set of tunes as emphasised by the selection below:
Gene Watson Playlist
1 ‘Should I Come Home (Or Should I Go Crazy)’
2 ‘Where Love Begins’
3 ‘No Trash In My Trailer’
4 ‘Baby Me Baby’
5 ‘It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad’
6 ‘This Dream’s On Me’
7 ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’
8 ‘In A Perfect World’
9 ‘Memories To Burn’
10 ‘I Don’t Go Around Mirrors’
11 ‘Paper Rosie’
12 ‘Today I Started Loving You Again’
13 ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’
14 ‘I Don’t Need A Thing At All’
15 ‘One & One & One’
16 ‘Fourteen Carat Mind’
17 ‘Farewell Party’
18 ‘Pick The Wildwood Flower’ (encore)
Lisa and Sean Brady had the pleasure of meeting and, having lunch with, Gene Watson, at his hotel on Monday 4 August 2008 between 11:30am and 1:20pm (Irish time). What can be said!
Gene Watson was a delight to be with and he was a true Texas gentleman.
It was Sarah Brosmer, Gene Watson’s Day-to-Day Manager at Lytle Management in Brentwood, TN who suggested to Sean Brady that Gene and he should have an opportunity to sit down together, while he was on tour in Northern Ireland, and have a discussion about The Gene Watson Fan Site and piece together any segments of his life story which Sean felt were ‘missing’ from the online version of his biography.
Sean Brady meets Gene Watson on Monday 4 August 2008
Sean Brady’s conversation with Gene Watson began with a discussion about the early days of his country music career and about the record labels that he initially recorded for.
It was Sean Brady’s assumption that Tonka Records was the first label which Gene Watson had recorded for back in 1965. However, it turned out that Sean was incorrect with this information.
Sun Valley Records was the first record label which Gene Watson recorded for; the record label was based out of Houston in Texas. Gene Watson informed Sean that he only recorded one 45rpm single for Sun Valley Records and that the single was released on a very local (Texas) basis around 1962; the ‘A’ side was ‘If It’s That Easy’ (LH-3184) and the ‘B’ side was ‘Leading Me On’ (LH-3185).
Sean Brady informed Gene Watson that he had received an email, on Tuesday 10 June 2008, from a gentleman called David Johnson, in which he informed Sean about this 45rpm single release on Sun Valley Records.
Sean told Gene that David Johnson had informed him that he himself had this vinyl single in his record collection.
Sean Brady’s conversation with Gene Watson then turned to Tonka Records which, like Sun Valley Records, was based out of Houston in Texas and which was a record label which Gene recorded a number of 45rpm singles for in 1965 (‘If You Can’t Come, Just Call’, ‘You’re What’s Happened To Me’ and ‘Please Don’t Laugh At Me’).
According to the information displayed on these Tonka vinyl records, the first two tracks (‘If You Can’t Come, Just Call’ and ‘You’re What’s Happened To Me’) were written by Gene Watson, so Sean asked Gene if he’d composed many songs in the early days of his career and if he’d written any material in recent years.
Gene Watson informed Sean Brady that he wrote a number of songs himself in the early days and that he recorded a number of these songs in order to try to get his country music career established.
Gene Watson also told Sean that Tonka Records was owned by a gentleman called Gabe Tucker, who was experienced in all aspects of country music as he had been a bandleader, trumpet player, singer, comic, manager, disc jockey and record label operator. Gabe Tucker had also been involved with legendary artists Elvis Presley (Tuesday 8 January 1935 – Tuesday 16 August 1977) and Eddy Arnold (Wednesday 15 May 1918 – Thursday 8 May 2008).
Gene Watson and Sean Brady then spoke about Gene’s self-titled debut album, ‘Gene Watson‘ (Wide World Records, 1969 / Stoneway Records, 1973), which was released on Wide World Records (WWS 2002) in 1969.
Wide World Records had been established by Russ Reeder (a record distributor) and Roy M. Stone (a record store owner) and was based at 2817 Laura Koppe, in Houston, Texas (TX 77016); Gene Watson initially met Russ Reeder and Roy M. Stone around 1966.
Sean Brady meets Jim Blackstock (piano player with Gene Watson’s Farewell Party Band) in Park House Hotel in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Republic of Ireland on Sunday 9 May 2004
Sean Brady informed Gene Watson that, when he spoke with Jim Blackstock in Ireland on Sunday 9 May 2004, he had informed Sean that he (Jim Blackstock) had played piano on Gene Watson’s self-titled debut album, ‘Gene Watson‘ (Wide World Records, 1969 / Stoneway Records, 1973), recording sessions for which had taken place in Houston and Nashville.
Sean Brady discovered, online, that Jim Blackstock recorded an album for Stoneway Records called ‘Piano Styling’.
Sean Brady asked Gene Watson if he could recall any of the names of the other musicians who had been involved in the recording of his debut album, ‘Gene Watson‘ (Wide World Records, 1969 / Stoneway Records, 1973).
Gene Watson told Sean that he could remember some of the names involved in the recording sessions – they included Fred Hanna on steel guitar and Danny Ross on guitar.
Sean Brady discovered, online, that guitarist Danny Ross recorded the albums, ‘Flattop x Two’ and ‘Still on The Flattop’ (Stoneway Records, 1974).
Gene Watson couldn’t recall any of the other musicians, but he advised Sean to contact Jim Blackstock.
Gene Watson was sure that Jim Blackstock would be in a better position to remember the remaining musicians who worked on the recording sessions in 1969.
Initially, Gene Watson’s recording sessions for Wide World Records took place in both Houston and Nashville. However, Gene informed Sean that Roy M. Stone preferred that these recording sessions take place in Houston only, but Gene insisted that he preferred to use studios in Nashville.
As a result of these differences, Russ Reeder and Roy M. Stone both decided to go their separate ways. When the two managers split, Roy M. Stone was given all the masters that they had recorded with Gene Watson, and Russ Reeder was given Roy’s part of Gene’s recording contract.
As a consequence, Roy M. Stone re-released ‘Gene Watson’ on his own record label, Stoneway Records (STY 2002), in 1973.
At this time, in the early 1970s, things were changing for Gene Watson, so Sean Brady asked him about what happened next; Gene informed Sean that Russ Reeder owned a company called Record Service Company, so Gene and Russ formed a new record label called Resco Records. It was on Resco Records where Gene saw the release of his first successful 45rpm vinyl single – ‘Bad Water’ reached No.87 on the Billboard country music singles chart in July 1975.
Gene Watson informed Sean Brady that he now retained sole ownership of all the Resco Records masters, so Sean asked if he would ever consider re-releasing any of this fine material on CD. Gene stated that he hadn’t really thought about doing this, but he did say that re-releasing the material on CD could be an option to consider one day.
‘Another 48 Hours’ (1990)
Sean Brady then brought up the subject of those Gene Watson songs which had been included on various movie soundtrack albums.
Sean Brady reminded Gene Watson that ‘Paper Rosie’, which was written by Dallas Harms (Thursday 18 July 1935 – Saturday 12 October 2019), one of his most successful singles for Capitol Records in 1978, had been included on the soundtrack of the 1990 movie ‘Another 48 Hours’, which starred Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte.
Sean Brady informed Gene Watson that ‘Cowboys Don’t Get Lucky All The Time’, which was written by Dallas Harms (Thursday 18 July 1935 – Saturday 12 October 2019), and which Gene included on ‘Beautiful Country’ (Capitol Records, 1977), had also been included on the ‘Convoy’ soundtrack album in 1978. The movie ‘Convoy’ had been directed by Sam Peckinpah (Saturday 21 February 1925 – Friday 28 December 1984), but as far as Gene was concerned, he believed that his recording had been included at the behest of fellow country music artist, Kris Kristofferson.
‘Any Which Way You Can’ (1980)
Sean Brady then spoke to Gene Watson about his recording of ‘Any Way You Want Me’ (written by L. Ofman), which appeared on the soundtrack of the Clint Eastwood movie, ‘Any Which Way You Can’ in 1980, reaching No.33 on the Billboard country music singles chart in 1981.
Sean Brady asked Gene Watson about who approached him to record the song and whether Clint Eastwood made the final decision about Gene Watson’s inclusion on the soundtrack. Sean also asked Gene if Clint Eastwood was familiar with his music prior to this time.
Gene Watson stated that the song ‘Any Way You Want Me’ (written by L. Ofman) had been originally recorded by the guy who wrote the song, a man by the name of L. Ofman; Gene had actually produced the recording, but when Clint Eastwood heard the demo, Gene informed Sean that Clint wanted the track for his movie, but stated that he wanted Gene to record it instead of L Ofman.
At this time, in 1980, Gene Watson was on tour in Chicago, but upon hearing about Clint Eastwood’s request, he flew out to Los Angeles in order to lay down the vocal track for ‘Any Way You Want Me’ (written by L. Ofman).
Since a number of Gene Watson’s songs have been included on the soundtracks of these aforementioned movies, Sean Brady asked Gene if he had had any aspirations to appear in a country music-related movie or if he had ever been approached to do so. Gene responded by saying that he had never been approached to appear in any movies and that it had never been his desire to do so.
On Tuesday 25 September 2007, Gene Watson saw the release, on Shanachie Records, of his highly acclaimed ‘In a Perfect World’ (Shanachie Records, 2007), which featured special guests Joe Nichols, Lee Ann Womack, Connie Smith, Mark Chesnutt, Rhonda Vincent and Vince Gill.
Sean Brady asked Gene Watson that, if he had the opportunity to record with other artists, or undertake a duets album, who would he choose to record with; Gene responded by stating that recording with all of the aforementioned artists had been a wonderful experience and that Rhonda Vincent‘s contribution to the set completely floored him. Gene said that he would dearly love to record with her again.
Gene Watson and Sean Brady then returned to the subject of song-writing; Sean reminded Gene that he recorded the song ‘Somewhere Over You’ (written by Dave Lindsey, Jim Rushing and Gene Watson) and included the track on ‘Back in the Fire’ (Warner Bros. Records, 1988).
Sean reminded Gene that he obtained a song-writing credit, with Dave Lindsey and Jim Rushing, for this song, so Sean asked Gene about his contribution to this track.
Sean informed Gene that he had received an email from Dave Lindsey, on Saturday 15 April 2006, in which Dave Lindsey told Sean that, upon receiving a copy of the song, Gene requested that he be given the opportunity to rewrite the chorus. Sean asked Gene if this was true and Gene responded by saying that it was. Gene also said that he felt that the chorus could have been stronger, so he asked Dave Lindsey and Jim Rushing if he could rewrite the chorus.
Both Dave Lindsey and Jim Rushing agreed to this and, as a result, Gene received a song-writing credit on the track and a share of the royalties.
Sean Brady next spoke to Gene Watson about his contribution to the Ernest Tubb tribute album, ‘The Legend & The Legacy’ (First Generation Records, 1979), which was released on Pete Drake’s First Generation Records label in 1979, and asked whether or not he had recorded more than the two tracks Sean knew about (‘Yesterday’s Winner Is A Loser Today’ & Willie Nelson’s ‘Sad Songs & Waltzes’).
Gene Watson responded by saying that it had been his intention to record one track for this tribute album (Willie Nelson’s ‘Sad Songs & Waltzes’) and that he was later asked to contribute a second track (‘Yesterday’s Winner Is A Loser Today’).
Gene Watson also said that Ernest Tubb thought the world of Gene and stated that he would do anything to help Gene’s country music career.
Sean Brady then mentioned that Gene Watson had recorded ‘Silver Bells’ with George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 – Friday 26 April 2013), a track which was included on a compilation album, ‘The Nashville Christmas Album’, in 1991.
Gene Watson responded by stating that it was true; songs had been selected and studio time had been booked, but contractual reasons prevented the album project from going ahead as planned.
Sean Brady then informed Gene Watson that one of the tracks planned to be included on this duets album was ‘Too Gone Too Long’, which was written by Gene Pistilli (Thursday 27 March 1947 – Tuesday 26 December 2017), which was subsequently submitted to Randy Travis; Randy Travis‘ version of the track was No. 1 on the Billboard country music singles chart for one week in March 1988.
The next question Sean Brady asked Gene Watson was with regard to the songs ‘Old Porch Swing’, which was written by Joe Allen and Charlie Williams (Friday 20 December 1929 – Thursday 15 October 1992), and ‘Class Reunion’ (written by Don Henry and Craig Morris), which were originally included on ‘In Other Words’ (Broadland International Records / Mercury Canada, 1992).
Sean Brady wanted to know why these tracks were also included on ‘A Way to Survive’ (Step One Records, 1997).
Gene Watson responded by saying that he did not know why those tracks had been used for the second album, but he did let Sean know that these tracks contained backings that had been re-recorded.
Sean Brady knew that the song had been written by Joe Allen, but he wanted to know if the song had intended to be autobiographical in nature, as it clearly mentions Gene’s first name, which is Gary.
Gene Watson replied by stating that writer Joe Allen had recorded the track first time around and that he had included his own name, Jody, within the song and where Joe Allen had referenced the city of Denver, Gene Watson substituted it for Houston.
It was this point in their meeting that Gene Watson spoke fondly of writers who had made a lasting impression upon not only him but his country music career, writers such as Joe Allen, Dave Kirby (Sunday 10 July 1938 – Saturday 17 April 2004) and Warren D. Robb.
Sean Brady reminded Gene Watson that three members of his Farewell Party Band had written material he had recorded:
• ‘Beautiful You’ and ‘After The Party’, which were written by Joe Eddie Gough (Friday 27 January 1939 – Friday 14 August 2009), were included on Gene Watson’s ‘Should I Come Home’ (Capitol Records, 1979)
Sean Brady then poised the question: did Gene Watson encourage his Farewell Party Band members, who are mentioned above, to write songs for him? Gene Watson responded by stating that, in most instances, he had heard the writer performing the song in a club and was so impressed with the quality of the writing that he then decided to record the song in question.
On Tuesday 25 September 2007, Gene Watson saw the release, on Shanachie Records, of his highly acclaimed ‘In a Perfect World’ (Shanachie Records, 2007).
Sean Brady reminded Gene Watson that, on Friday 1 September 2000, while gracing the hallowed stage of The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, he had stated that Merle Haggard (Tuesday 6 April 1937 – Wednesday 6 April 2016) could get more out of a phrase than anyone.
Sean Brady asked Gene Watson if he would like to record with Merle Haggard (Tuesday 6 April 1937 – Wednesday 6 April 2016); the answer was an emphatic ‘yes’ and that one day he would love to achieve this goal.
As Sean Brady’s time with Gene Watson was drawing to a close, Sean stated that Gene’s ‘From The Heart‘ (RMG Records, 2001) featured beautiful mandolin and fiddle work from Aubrey Haynie.
Sean Brady felt that, as well as being a traditional country sounding album, ‘From The Heart‘ (RMG Records, 2001) also had an acoustic feel about it, and asked if Gene had ever considered recording a bluegrass-flavoured album, or bluegrass versions of his greatest hits.
Gene Watson responded by saying that he was indeed open to the idea of recording such a project but that, since he is so stepped in traditional country music, he would have to get used to working with a Dobro, as opposed to steel guitar.
Sean Brady’s time with Gene Watson was now drawing to a close, so Sean informed Gene that, as a result of Sean emailing Jo Ashbridge, in December 2007, at Hump Head Country in England, she had taken onboard Sean’s idea of them releasing a compilation of Gene’s fine work with MCA Records in the 1980s.
Gene Watson recorded for MCA Records between 1981 and 1985; Hump Head Country in England released ‘Matters of the Heart’ (Hump Head Country, 2008), which included 20 tracks, 12 of which appeared on CD for the first time.
Upon hearing this news and seeing a proof of the album sleeve on Sean Brady’s laptop computer, Gene Watson was visibly delighted to see so many of his ‘hard-to-find’ tracks contained within this generous collection.
On Monday 4 August 2008, Sean & Lisa Brady had a wonderful visit with Gene Watson for the best part of two hours.
Sean Brady was delighted to have been given this unique opportunity to meet Gene Watson and speak with this fine artist.
Gene Watson has an amazing voice and over the years has held onto his musical integrity and has never compromised the music he dearly loves.
Gene Watson was an absolute delight to spend time with and it was Sean Brady’s pleasure to meet him.
Sean Brady wishes to extend a special ‘thank you’ to Sarah Brosmer at Lytle Management in Brentwood, TN, without whose help and kindness this meeting would never have taken place.
Sean Brady also wishes to add: ‘Thank you, Gene, for graciously allowing me to meet and spend time with you’.
Gene Watson Fan Site