The latest single from Texas country artist Aaron Watson is causing a stir with fans – particularly in his home base of the Lone Star State and Oklahoma. The fourth single from his Billboard top ten album "Real Good Time," titled "July In Cheyenne," is striking a chord with many rodeo fans thanks to its' story of legendary professional rider Lane Frost.
Frost, whose life was documented in the 1994 Luke Perry film "8 Seconds," is one of pro rodeo's most tragic figures. Having just completed a 91-point ride on a Brahma bull named "Taking Care Of Business," he was mortally wounded by the animal's horn at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo on July 30, 1989. His story was also a key part of Garth Brooks' award-winning video for "The Dance." Watson told Billboard how the song came to be.
"I came home one Sunday morning off the road, and I was pretty tired. I took the family to church, came home and played with my kids. We had dinner, and everybody went to bed. I couldn't sleep, so I got up and started working on some songs. I turned on the TV, and '8 Seconds' was on." As he began to watch the film, he also surfed the Internet in search of more information about Frost's life story.
"I came across something that his mom said, and it touched me. She started talking about the movie, and there were a lot of things the movie got wrong. It made Lane's father, Clyde, out to be a cold and mean father. In reality, he was a very loving and supportive father. But, what she said – and I should make her a co-writer, because had she not said this, there wouldn't be a song - 'Lane was a world champion bull rider, but that was not his greatest achievement in his life. His greatest achievement came a year before he died, when he asked Jesus to become his savior. That's what got me. The simple truth in his mothers' words."
As it turns out, Watson shared a common bond with Lane's parents. "My wife and I lost a child two months before I wrote this song. Her name was Julia Grace. We lost her at birth, and had her for about an hour and a half. It was tough then, and it was tough now. I could feel what Elsie was saying when she spoke about Lane because of our loss. I decided I wanted to write her a song. Usually, it takes a while to get the song right," he said. However, this experience was different.
"But, this song just wrote itself like it was a gift from God. I was able to send it to her, and she called me up, and said she loved it. I started playing it in some live shows, and the fans started digging it, so we put it on the record. A lot of interesting things have happened since we cut it. I've been asked to play it at opening ceremonies in Las Vegas for NFR. Regardless of what happens with this song, I'm excited about it because I poured my heart and soul into it. I can sell it because I can believe in it. I'm working on my 12th record right now, and I've put out songs that were just fun songs and served a purpose. But, if you can put something out that has a positive message, that's what's exciting – there's something bigger than this life. It's a Gospel song at the end, and the fact that his mama loved it is just icing on the cake."
Why does Frost's story have such an appeal almost a quarter-century after his passing. Watson said he represents the ultimate success story. "He was in his prime. It's kind of like Buddy Holly. When a small town kid does big things and dies before his time, I think it leaves a lasting memory. He had a million dollar smile. What was not to love about him? I really didn't realize the impact that Lane had on people until we came out with the songs," he said. Watson has just wrapped up filming a video for the tune, as well.