Aaron Watson Opens Up About the Vocal Cord Injury That Changed Everything: 'It's Been Pretty Frustrating'

"I've been working out on my ranch, my garden is looking great, and I've got to spend lots of time playing baseball with my boys," Watson says of his newfound free time

aaron watson Photo credit: Lindsey Cotton
Aaron Watson. Photo: Lindsey Cotton

Aaron Watson has never not sung.

But that's exactly where the country music troubadour from Texas currently finds himself as he releases his much-anticipated new album Unwanted Man. Because while he should be out on the road singing the songs his fans have been anxiously awaiting, Watson is not speaking, not performing and definitely not singing.

"This is the first time in 20 years and probably 2,500 shows where I've been physically incapable of singing," Watson tells PEOPLE in a recent interview, done over email due to his ongoing vocal cord injury. "Somehow my vocal cords became severely inflamed, which led to some other issues requiring a good amount of time to heal."

Indeed, Watson and his team remain somewhat confused as to what landed him in this dire predicament. Nevertheless, there are some silver linings that Watson himself is currently holding onto.

"The good news is that it's not a career-ending injury or anything requiring surgery," says Watson, who broke onto the country music scene back in 1999. "I feel great, besides the 'not being able to sing' situation."

Aaron Watson
Aaron Watson. Lindsey Cotton

Forever the tough guy, Watson is the first to admit that the last few months have been quite the test for the road warrior that has made a living out on tour for his fans.

"To be honest, it's been pretty frustrating," says Watson, who has been consulting with a specialist in Alabama throughout his vocal cord ordeal and updated fans on Instagram regarding a procedure he was having done on Thursday. "I've already had to take all this time off due to COVID. Singing is what I love to do and it's how I provide for my family, so there's been some challenges but that's just life."

Luckily, the unexpected downtime has offered Watson a chance to catch up on some fatherly duties, such as building a playpen for his daughter's bunny. He's also working on building a studio in his mom's backyard where she can work on her art.

And that's not all.

"I've been working out on my ranch, my garden is looking great, and I've got to spend lots of time playing baseball with my boys," says Watson, who's also been catching up on Netflix's Stranger Things.

The time has also allowed Watson to truly take in all the emotions that come when one releases a new album, especially considering that Unwanted Man was created during the pandemic shutdown of 2020.

"Songwriting is my occupation," says Watson, who is currently on vocal rest until July 1. "It's my hobby, it's my drug, it's my therapy. My songs are kind of a window to my soul, so as you listen to the lyrics [on Unwanted Man], you can see the ups and downs that I've been through. It's kind of a vulnerable thing sometimes."

The new album also features the standout song "Dancing Around the Truth," the album's first single that tells a somewhat sad story that somehow still feels good to the soul.

"I'm excited about 'Dancing Around the Truth,'" Watson says of the song premiering exclusively on PEOPLE. "I love the music, the melody, the mood... it's got that Ray Price "For the Good Times" vibe. I'm really going to enjoy singing this one live."

And while he is still unsure of when that day might be, Watson says he remains patient and determined to come out the other side better than ever.

"It's been hard putting out an album when you can't sing, tour and promote it at the level you expected to," explains Watson, who already says he is hard at work on his next album.

"I'm so thankful to all those who have been my voice while I give my vocal cords time to heal. I worked so hard on this Unwanted Man album. But really, I just feel fortunate and blessed to have such an amazing family, so many good friends and wonderful fans that have been so supportive with their kind words and prayers."

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