Written by Abby Wills. 15 October 2014.
Aaron Watson’s twelfth album The Underdog received much praise and became his first No.1 US Billboard Top Country Album. The album focuses on his family, fans, and faith while including traditional themes of country music – cowboys, trucks, and rodeos. Each song on the album has a distinctive sound; however, “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song),” has a special meaning for Watson. “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” touches on family and faith, but the story behind the song is heart wrenching.
“Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” chronicles the loss of his daughter Julia Grace who died shortly after birth in 2011. After this loss, Watson took a break from music. He said, “the last thing I want to do is make music, to get up there and sing” (Chandler). Watson struggled with the songwriting process. Around December 2011, he found motivation and wrote the majority of his eleventh album Real Good Time. However, none of the songs touched on Julia’s death.
With The Underdog and “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song),” Watson put pen to paper and delved into his heart about the loss of his fourth child. He explained that “she was laid to rest in a field where the Texas state flower blossoms for a brief window every year.” In the song, Watson reminds listeners “life is like bluebonnets in the spring” – beautiful but fleeting. Listeners can empathize with Watson because they sense his pain. The song is a reminder of the delicacy and fragility of life. It is both melancholy and a reminder to embrace the time we are given. This sentiment is reflected in the lyrics, “We’re only here for a little while / It’s beautiful and bittersweet / So make the most of every mile.”
To connect with his listeners, Watson effectively uses language and phrasing to convey meaning and emotion. The clear lyrics help the audience understand Watson’s purpose. He uses familiar language like “pain,” “sorrow,” “bare,” and “bittersweet” to dispel any confusion about how he is feeling and the loss he has experienced. However, Watson makes it clear he is not focusing on the pain. Through phrases like “give it all your heart and soul,” and “so love like there’s no tomorrow” the audience can conclude that the song is about living life and clinging to your family and faith. “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” has a delicate rhythm. It moves with purpose but the fluidity of the soft strums of the guitar give the song a deep and raw emotion.
“Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” carries a powerful emotive charge through heavy figuration. The whole song is a simile – “life is like bluebonnets in the spring.” The song is transcending because he honors his daughter who was laid to rest in a field of bluebonnets and compares the preciousness of life to a flower that blossoms for a brief time. By including a familiar figure of speech, Watson is not only bringing life to the song, but he is giving the listeners a piece of him to connect to the song.
The song form presented in “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” is Verse-Chorus-Bridge, which most listeners recognize because it is used frequently in country music today. The structure of the song helps develop the message. The verses of this song provide the listener with background information that helps convey the message. The first verse reflects on Watson’s childhood and time he spent with his grandparents, wishing he cherished those moments more. In the second verse, Watson sings about saying goodbye to his daughter Julia and tells the listener to hold your kids tight and “don’t blink.” The chorus repeats three times and reminds the listener to embrace the time we have and make the most of life. The verses and chorus work hand in hand. The verses set up the message and the chorus reinforces the message. The short bridge near the end of the song takes the message up a notch. Watson sings, “Life can be filled full of sorrow / Time is something you can’t borrow / So love like there’s no tomorrow / Because today could be the day.” The simplicity of the bridge makes it clear and effective. Watson has successfully stated and reinforced his message.
“Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song)” is arguably the best song on The Underdog. It showcases Watson’s songwriting talent and ability to share emotion. By utilizing clarity, rhythm, and the verse-chorus-bridge structure, Watson draws the listener into identifying with his message of embracing life. Watson is willing and able to show vulnerability and loss in his music; therefore, it is easy for listeners to connect with him.
|0:00||Intro||Guitar, drums||A soft guitar is playing. The guitar has a melancholic ring. The drums are keeping a constant beat.|
|0:11||Verse 1||“In another time and place…”||The way he says the words “place,” “face,” “lap,” and “gone” make it sound like he is speaking. There is a slight pause after “face.” The drums have a constant beat.|
|0:41||Chorus||“Long gone like bluebonnets in the spring…”||His voice is a little bit louder. There are background vocals. There is emphasis on “bluebonnets” and “while.” A slight pause after “bittersweet.” There is emphasis on “mile.” A short pause takes place before the last phrase in the verse.|
|1:19||Instrumental||Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar, and drums||Soft guitar, steel guitar, drums keeping a beat|
|1:28||Verse 2||“There’s so much I can’t explain…”||Emotion is shown on “pain” and “why.” There is a slight pause before the last “don’t blink.”|
|2:00||Chorus||“Cause like bluebonnets in the spring…”||This chorus is sung the same as the last chorus. There is a long pause after “mile.” Once again sung louder than the verses.|
|2:25||Instrumental||Steel guitar, Acoustic guitar||More emphasis on the steel guitar|
|2:55||Bridge||“Life can be filled full of sorrow…”||He almost speaks “sorrow” and “borrow.” There is a slight pause after “today.” He speaks “today could be the day.”|
|3:00||Chorus||“Like bluebonnets in the spring…”||This chorus is sung the same as the previous two choruses. “Bittersweet” is held out a little longer. Watson repeats the last line twice.|
|3:51||Outro||Guitar, piano||The guitar is soft and quiet. The song finishes off with picking individual notes.|
“Aaron Watson Defies The Odds With ‘The Underdog’ Out Feb 17.” Shore Fire Media. 2 Dec. 2014. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
“About Aaron Watson.” Aaron Watson. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Chandler, Chip. “Country Star Watson Finds Strength after Loss.” Amarillo Globe-News. 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Schott, Josh. “Album Review – Aaron Watson’s ‘The Underdog'” Country Perspective. 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.