Country music singer-songwriter Aaron Watson said that his newest album, “Red Bandana,” is a reflection of two things: how he’s changed after 20 years as an artist, and the 20 years worth of gratitude for his fans.
“There is a big difference between a 20-year-old and 40-year-old, and the older you get, the more life experience you get,” Watson, an Abilene native, said. “And I just have so many people to thank for everything in my life.”
Watson will be performing “Red Bandana” along with songs from his past albums at Saturday at the Pharr Events Center.
“I wanted there to be 20 songs for the 20 years that Texan music fans have been supporting my career,” he said about the album. “And, the 20 songs more than anything is a ‘thank you’ to the fans. I want fans to know that I poured my heart into this album, and that its for them.”
This year, Watson is celebrating two decades since his first debut studio album, “Singer/Songwriter.” Following that 1999 record, he has produced 14 others, many of which have reached national charts — including “That Look,” the lead single from his 2014 album “The Underdog” which debuted in the top 10 Billboard Country Digital Songs chart. He was the first independent male artist to debut as number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums.
The record sold more than 26,000 copies in its first week out.
Watson said that he could have never expected his career to take him to where he is today, and that through the years, his motive has remained constant: to provide for his family and make his parents proud.
“In every song that I write and every show that I play, I am who I am because of how my mom and dad raised me,” Watson said. “I have this drive because of how hard they worked for me while growing up. Hopefully my life is a reflection of them. I may be grown now, but I still want to please them.
“This is also my job, and now I am very motivated because I have a wife and three kids.”
Watson’s inspiration for the name of the album came from his father, who often wore a red bandana while working at their ranch in Buffalo Gap.
“The bandana signifies hardwork and grit, blood sweat and tears. And the bandana is a very cowboy, and I think that that’s what the red bandana signifies, determination.”
And the red bandana Watson wears at every show belongs to his father, who he said taught him the virtues of a hard day’s work.
“My dad was a custodian and I mean, that is not the most glorious job, but what motivated my dad was to make a living, to take care of his wife and kids,” Watson said. “I apply the same kind of principles to my job, as my dad did to his: get out there and work hard, and always do the best job you can do.”
Watson noted that the album doesn’t necessarily follow a theme like the others that he’s released, preferring to include all aspects of his life in the last two decades. And, his hope to be transparent with listeners is evident in the first song of the album, “Ghost of Guy Clark,” which features recordings from his grandmother’s windchimes on their ranch.
“I included her windchimes, sounds of the ranch gates opening, trains that pass by. I thought it would be neat to not only pour my heart into the album, but also have sounds from home,” Watson said.
The last song of the album is a tribute to victims of the 2017 Mandalay Bay shooting, which took the lives of 58 concert-goers attending the annual Route 91 show in Las Vegas.
Watson performed at the show the year before.
“I had a lot of friends there that night, fans who were there,” he said. “It (the song, “58”) is a simple response, I wanted to write a song from my heart to let everyone know that we are still thinking about the people who lost their lives and keeping their families in our prayers.”
In the last verse, Watson croons:
“58 got wings way too soon
Waltzin’ across the stars and the moon
58 angels singin’ along
Forever missed, this is your song”
“I have a personal attachment to every song, and not every song is a love song, not every song is a song full of heart and soul,” Watson said. “Some songs are fun songs for the live show. I really focused on heart, and being real.”
Watson is looking forward toward meeting his fans in the Rio Grande Valley, adding that “every ticket comes with a hug.”