DALE WATSON “Whatever Happened to the Cadillac” Video Premiere – with Web-Exclusive Interview

Musician:  DALE WATSON

Video:  “Whatever Happened to the Cadillac”



Dale Watson is like a chameleon when he picks up his guitar takes you on a journey along the backroads of America. Starvation Box begins with the captivating title track, which Watson co-wrote with CMA award-winning songwriter Mike Henderson, of Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” fame. The song rides a bluesy 12-string guitar riff backed by a sparse rhythm track that gives ample room for Watson’s leathery baritone voice.

As Watson explains, “Living in Marshall, TX, the area so influential to Lead Belly, I went down the Lead Belly rabbit hole. It led me to a 1957 Stella 12-string guitar just like the one Lead Belly had, which his father called a ‘starvation box.’ I knew I had to write that song as an ode to Lead Belly. What I wrote was ok but with Mike Henderson’s additions and of course, his slide guitar and harmonica, I think we came up with a fitting tribute that I hope people like.”

There’s plenty more bluesy, folk and roots rock in store on Starvation Box, the album, including an ode to Elvis Presley’s mechanic, “Billy Strawn,” a fantastic cover of Percy Mayfield’s “Like A Stranger In My Own Hometown,” and the superb closer, a gospel rave-up called “Ain’t Nobody Everybody Loved.” But one of the tracks that caught our attention and made us smile was “Whatever Happened to the Cadillac.”

We talked with Dale Watson about his new album and what made him want to record this new album.

From Alt-Country to Roots—why did you choose to record Starvation Box at this particular time?
I listened to a podcast called History Cache and the lady did a four-part series on Leadbelly. I had thought I knew a lot about him and his music, but I was wrong. So after going down the Leadbelly rabbit hole, I was inspired to try a 12-string guitar. My wife bought me the best playing acoustic 12-string I’ve ever owned, and I was immediately inspired to write new songs. And that is this album.

What one main thing did you learn about yourself after recording this new collection of songs?
I learned an appreciation for solo acoustic performers. You’re naked, so to speak, and there’s nowhere to hide the bad notes.

How did this album evolve?
It evolved from the guitar inspiring me to write song after song, until I realized I had enough to make an album.

What inspired “Whatever Happened to the Cadillac”?
I had reserved a Cadillac to drive from Austin to Memphis, where I have an Airbnb that is all mid-century, modern and Elvis decorated. So Celine (my wife) and me, and my singing/writing partner were planning to take this big Caddy and fill it with antiques and vintage home decor. Well, I was going by my memory of driving a 1978 Cadillac. But when we got to the rental place and said proudly, ‘We have a caddy reserved.’ The guy pointed us to this little SUV-looking thing. I said, ‘No no no! I reserved a big Cadillac.’ He said, ‘That is our biggest one.’ I said, ‘But it has bucket seats! Real Cadillacs didn’t have bucket seats!’ I ended up writing the song on that drive in this miserable excuse of a Cadillac.

Which song squeaked by and made it onto this album collection?
“Two Peas in a Pod” is a song I love singing with Celine, and I wrote that song for and about us. So glad it made it onto this collection.

Which 5 songwriters continue to influence you?
Tom T Hall, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.

Is there a songwriting tip you’d like to offer?
Read Tom T Hall’s book How I Write Songs—it’s open your mind.

Which song of yours do you continue to include in almost every live show?
“Carryin’ On”—because it’s been 20 years, and I am still Carryin’ On like I haven’t learned a thing.

Tell us 5 albums that inspired you to be a musician.
Ray Price – Night Life
Willie Nelson – Live at Panther Hall
Johnny Bush – Live at Dancetown USA
Johnny Cash – Live at San Quentin
Waylon Jennings – Honky Tonk Heroes

Tell us about the song “Starvation Box” and how this song came together.
“Starvation Box” is what Leadbelly’s Dad called his guitar. I had written it from facts I knew, but something was missing. I asked Mike Henderson to help finish it, and he was the perfect guy to ask. His touches were exactly what was needed. He did the same doctoring to “Cadillac,” as well.

Tell us about a moment in your musical journey so far—that you are real proud of—and that continues to inspire you to keep making music.
Every time I play the Opry, I’m proud and inspired. But the one moment had to be Austin City Limits—doing my own segment. It was for hometown folks and it was very emotional for me. I felt like each one of the people in that audience knew that they personally had a hand in getting me there. Music without people to share it with would be sad. The fans are my sole inspiration to keep playing. If they stop showing up, I’ll quit—but not until then!

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?
I do my own social media, with a lot of help from Celine.
Facebook Instagram and Twitter:
I’m TheDaleWatson (the CIA Director Dale Watson had dibs on my name)

And of course, my website (I beat him to that)

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