This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Watson’s signature song, “Farewell Party,” which hit the charts in 1979. Obviously, he remembers all the details of that single, from the first time he heard it – Watson was not the first artist with a cut on the song – and his decision to record it, in spite of objections from his team. “The first time I ever heard it was by Waylon Jennings,”Gene Watson says. “He had a completely different arrangement of it.
Little Jimmy Dickens also had it, and Johnny Bush and Billy Walker.” Watson was living in Houston and would do the song at the various clubs around the city. It never failed to get a roaring ovation. Reps from his label and his management, however, didn’t exactly share the same enthusiasm.
“When we were in the studio,” Watson recalls, “we got to the end of the session and I said I really wanted to do ‘Farewell Party.’ Nobody wanted me to do it.” The song was deemed too morose and down for the general audience.