Aaron Watson celebrates the holidays with his latest album, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas.
Holidays are best spent with family, and no one knows that more than Texas troubadour Aaron Watson, whose latest holiday album recruits the talent of his wife and three kids.
His first Christmas endeavor, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas combines eight festive classics with two originals — the ideal musical holiday helper to turn up during the shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, and celebrating the meaning of the season.
Album highlights include the collaborative tracks “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” featuring Watson’s wife, Kimberly; “Christmas Time Is Here,” featuring his daughter Jolee Kate and son Jack; “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, featuring his son Jake; and Watson’s two originals, “Lonestar Lonely Christmas” and “She Stared at Him All Night.”
With cameos from the whole family blended with Watson’s original songwriting, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas makes a heartwarming addition to the soundtrack of the holidays this year and beyond.
Recently we caught up with Watson to talk about his latest album, his family, and his favorite holiday traditions.
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An Aaron Watson Family Christmas.
Cowboys & Indians: Congratulations on An Aaron Watson Family Christmas.
Aaron Watson: It’s such a sweet, sweet album, and I got to sing two songs with my wife. She did amazing. I thought it would turn out good, but I just didn’t know that it was going to turn out to be really what I feel like is going to be a timeless Christmas album for families to enjoy.
C&I: What made you choose to do it now?
Watson: Basically people have been harassing me for the last 10 years, “When are you going to do a Christmas record? When are you going to do a Christmas record?” And I was like, “Ha ha.” The tough thing is that the time to record a Christmas record is usually in the summertime, and I’m usually so busy with touring and busy with the family that it’s really hard to stop to record a Christmas record. But we recorded this one kind of on the fly. We did all the vocals, basically, in my wife’s closet because it’s at the house. We set up the mic and all the recording equipment, Christmas lights. There we were, July in Texas, singing Christmas songs. I really enjoyed it. I really did not anticipate myself just enjoying this album. I may have enjoyed this album more than I’ve enjoyed any album I’ve done thus far.
C&I: What do you hope your fans will get out of it?
Watson: Oh, I think that they’re going to relate to it. I think that my family, we’re just really a very average, normal family. And for them, I think they’re going to get a kick out of hearing my wife sing because she’s usually so quiet and withdrawn, and she doesn’t want to walk the red carpet, doesn’t want the spotlight, but she sang wonderfully. And then my little girl, I think everybody’s going to see that when my career is done in a few years, I’ll be driving her bus.
C&I: Did they get to pick the songs that they’re featured on?
Watson: Yeah, we all kind of sat down and said, “Okay, so what do you want to sing?”
And, of course, kids are all like, “‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,’ ‘Jingle Bells.’” Obviously, if I was just doing a Christmas record by myself, those wouldn’t have been my first pick. But I’m telling you, you just can’t beat kids singing on some of those songs. And having them sing with me, I will cherish this album the rest of my life. I’m telling you right now: When they’re grown I will probably play this album, sit down next to a fire at Christmas, and cry like a baby just because of how precious it was to have this opportunity with my kids. My little girl sang that song, “Christmas Time Is Here,” which was obviously the big song off the old Charlie Brown Christmas Special. And then over the solo, my middle son, Jack, read a Bible verse ... the same verse that Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special ... telling Charlie Brown what the true meaning of Christmas was. And man, it’s just a really, really, really sweet album. It’s kind of like it’s got that cowboy classic Sinatra kind of feel to it. I’m excited to share this album with my fans. I cannot wait for them to hear it.
C&I: What was it like to get them all together to do that? Did you plan for them to be featured on it?
Watson: You know, it wasn’t just planned. I don’t know. Jake just turned 12, Jack just turned 10, Jolee Kate turned 8. They’re at the age that they’re starting to sing really well. When they were younger, getting them to all sing the different harmony parts and stuff like that would have been quite the struggle. But they’re getting good. And we just talked about it as a family and I said, “Would you guys want to help me make a Christmas record?” And of course everybody was excited about it. I don’t know that my wife was excited about it, but she was like, “OK.” But gosh, they did so good. But I will tell you this: I am paying them in the form of taking them to Disney World for Christmas. So I don’t want anybody coming at me for any type of, like, child labor laws. They’re getting taken good care of.
C&I: So we can definitely expect another collaboration in the future, right?
Watson: You bet, you bet. I have no doubt. My kids are so musical. Who knows what they’ll — only God knows. I don’t try to push them in any direction, but I’ll tell you, my little girl, she’s got a little superstar swagger.
C&I: I follow you on Instagram (@aaronwatsonmusic), and I saw a video of your son playing guitar. He is so talented.
Watson: Oh, wow. I know, right? ... That boy plays the guitar better than his dad. ... We sit down and we learn parts, but then I leave him alone for 30 minutes and he knows the song better than me. He is so talented. And I don’t push them too hard. I want them to chase their own dreams, if that’s the career path he chooses. ... I really just try to teach my kids that whatever they do, to give their best efforts.
C&I: How did you go about picking the Christmas classics on the album? What other songs might you do if you got the chance to do another Christmas album?
Watson: I don’t know. I kind of picked some of the tracks that I always liked, some of the classic Sinatra and Dean Martin Christmas songs, Bing Crosby — those songs that I loved listening to growing up. I haven’t even thought about the next one yet, but I’m sure as the kids get older, they’re going to have more and more thoughts and opinions on what they want to do, so I probably won’t even get to pick the next one; it probably won’t even be up to me.
C&I: You have some original songs, too.
Watson: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I forgot about that one. Yeah, that’s actually how we started the album.
C&I: What was that writing process like?
Watson: I started writing that song a long time ago and I just never finished it. It’s got this cool, like old-school, kind of a country-crooner kind of thing going on. It’s definitely, I think, a great Texas Christmas song. So that’s obviously how we started the album off because I have to. I’ve got to start it off with that old Texas Christmas song “Lonely Lonestar Christmas.”
C&I: What inspired that track?
Watson: I just come up with things sometimes. Obviously, I haven’t spent Christmas alone. I’m usually there, the one wrapping all the presents and stuff. But it just had this kind of cool like [singing]:
I’m all alone and lonely / Oh, the lonely Lonestar Christmas nights.
Just kind of like:
Oh, not a soul under my mistletoe / No one in which to treat me right.
And I know my name could not been missed right at the top of that old naughty list.
I’m all alone and lonely / On a lonely Lonestar Christmas night.
It’s kind of got that old-school kind of like just-snap-your-hands-and-sing-along kind of song. So it’s going to be fun. It’s a fun album. Of all the albums I’ve ever made, this is the one where I cannot wait for the world to get to hear this song, this album.
C&I: How did you go about making the classics your own?
Watson: I had ideas on every song. A guy that I work with, Milo Deering, is one of the greatest musicians I’ve [ever] been around. He does amazing instrumentation, and I really feel like Christmas music is one of his great gifts. Christmas music, a lot of that stuff is like jazz, lots of chords, lots of melody. It’s a much more complicated genre of music, a lot of times, than just a country song. There’s a lot that goes into it. And I’ve just kind of got my own style, so I just try to let my style influence the direction of these songs.
C&I: Speaking of your family, you recently released the music video for “Run Wild Horses,” which features your wife. What was that like?
Watson: Well, I wrote that song for Kim and I hate making videos — I’m not going to lie. And they were like, “You have to make a video for this. You have to make a video for this.” And everybody had their thoughts and opinions on what kind of video we should make and I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to do that. That’s a terrible idea. I don’t want to use some other girl actress. Blah, blah, blah.” I didn’t want to do this. I was kind of being an old fuddy-duddy about it, so I told Kim, “You know what, I need you to be in the video.” She was like, “What are we going to do?” And I was like, “Oh, there’s going to be a bedroom scene.” And she was like, “No.” And of course, I was kidding. But on our 10-year anniversary, I set up a table and kind of did something similar up on top of one of the mesas at our ranch and I said, “Let’s just create this video where I’m going to great efforts to woo you, to make you feel special. Let me be me. Let me do this.” And she was kind enough to be the pretty girl on my right arm, and she was kind enough to let me borrow a lot of our furniture from our living room. So, yeah, I had to buy her a new rug because we ruined it.
C&I: You’re constantly touring and always in someplace new. Do you plan on incorporating this Christmas album into your current tour?
Watson: I don’t know. It just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have my wife and kids there, so I don’t know. That’s a tough deal because the kids are involved in so many different things with school: sports, ballet, baseball, basketball, pretty much anything and everything. That would mean me pulling them away from their lives and the things they love. I don’t know. I’ll probably play some of these songs acoustically at shows and surprise people. You never know what I’m going to do.
C&I: Your faith is extremely important to you. How do you think that translates in this album?
Watson: You know, people have asked me, they’re like, “Is this a Jesus Christmas album, or is this a Santa Christmas album?” And definitely not every song is the story of baby Jesus, but it was very important that throughout the entire record there was that faith. That was the foundation of our faith, and the meaning of Christmas, from some Bible verses that we put in there to some very sweet songs about the birth of Jesus.
Christmas Catch-Up with Aaron Watson
Favorite Santa song — “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” Beach Boys’ “He’s a Little Saint Nick.”
Favorite Jesus song — “She Stared at Him All Night.”
Favorite Christmas tradition — “Unwrapping presents with the family or watching Christmas Vacation with my wife after the kids are in bed.”
Favorite Christmas drink — Eggnog.
Christmas movie — White Christmas, the black-and-white version.
Best Christmas gift he’s ever received — “Probably my X-wing Fighter, Star Wars 1983.”
Favorite place to spend Christmas — “Home, always.”
For more information on Aaron Watson and his latest album, visit his website.