Dale Watson channels his newly adopted part-time home of Memphis, Tennessee, on “The Dumb Song,” an unapologetic rockabilly throwback that will appear on his next LP, Call Me Lucky.
With a walking bass line pulled straight from Johnny Cash’s Fifties repertoire, “The Dumb Song” — like all but one of the tracks on the new album, which is due out on February 15th — was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording, the onetime home of Cash’s first label Sun Records. It was even cut with Cash’s drummer, W.S. Holland, for an extra bit of authenticity. Watson mixes a devilish charm with a touch of smarm as he rattles off the bad habits he won’t quit, from drinking and smoking to eating Southern fried chicken. “A lot of things I’m doing I shouldn’t do, it’s true. But I’m gonna keep on doing all these things I shouldn’t do,” he sings.
The 83-year-old Holland, nicknamed “Fluke,” was included as an homage to his work with Cash and Carl Perkins, and gets the literal last word on the song as he shouts an excited “Yes!” at the end. “Being a fan and becoming friends with W.S. Holland is like having a front seat to Memphis 1953 and on,” Watson says, recalling that Holland’s moniker came from his unorthodox drum setup. “Though the song is more geared toward being hard-headed and doing what you shouldn’t do, Fluke is no dummy, but he always did what he wanted to do, even when folks said he couldn’t. I kept his holler on the end of the song just so people can hear his voice — it’s passionate. He loved nailing that take, even if it was just my ‘Dumb’ song.”
Watson, a mainstay of Austin, Texas for more than 20 years, now splits his time living there and in Memphis. He and his band, the Lone Stars, play at Luckenbach Dance Hall in Fredericksburg, Texas, on November 21st, and will take part in the Outlaw Country Cruise in January just before Call Me Lucky is released.