Clint Black had a hit song about killing time, but this country music legend is doing anything but killing time.
One of the genre’s lasting stars from the Class of ‘89 (which also includes Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt and Garth Brooks), he has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and charted nearly two dozen No. 1 singles, including “Killin’ Time,” “Nothing But The Tailights,” “Like the Rain,” “When I Said I Do” (which features his wife, Lisa Hartman Black) and “Better Man.”
In 2015, he released “On Purpose,” his first studio album in a decade. He wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks, produced the album, played guitar on it and recorded it in his home studio in Nashville. He writes and produces for television, film, as well as other artists. And he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Black will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Weinberg Center for the Arts and I recently caught up with him via email for an interview.
It was almost 30 years ago that “Better Man” was released. And like a lot of people, I still really like that song. What’s the story behind it and when you wrote it, did you have that gut feeling it would be a hit?
Time flies, right! It started with a musical idea of Hayden’s [Nicholas] and I had the idea for the chorus. We knew we liked it and thought other country music lovers would like it, but you never really “know.” I did believe it should be the first single and took a chance and played it for a program director in L.A., even though RCA had chosen a different single. The reaction was so great, RCA changed their choice.
”… Love what you do, and who do you love, earn what you get, get what you earn, the lesson in love we all gotta learn you can use your head it’s never enough, it will get you through life but never through love … I can think of a thousand ways to die, but only one way to live.” Good advice! What’s the story behind that song, “One Way to Live,” from the album “On Purpose?”
I had the chorus idea and didn’t have a single idea which direction I wanted to go with the verses. I called my buddy Steve Wariner, emailed him the lyric for the chorus. By the time we got together to write the song, he had an idea for the direction we could go with the verses.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in (country) music?
Know the music that came before your time and strive to be original and even more importantly, authentic. You can polish yourself up, but don’t break the mold.
You have a reputation for being a funny guy? Can you share a funny, but printable, joke or story?
You mean that last answer wasn’t funny!? Ha! If you could’ve heard me typing, you would’ve laughed! I do share some funny asides in the show and have some good laughs with the audiences in the more intimate venues. That’s the thing I love the most about theaters like the Weinberg.
When the music is off, what do you like to do? What would you like to do that you haven’t already done? Any projects in the works?
Time with my wife and daughter is my favorite. We have the best times. For the latter part of your question, I’ve already done more than I could’ve dreamed. But … I’m currently developing a holiday musical around my original Christmas songs. If I’m lucky, we’ll have it on stage for a trial run this Christmas.
When I’m not sure if I should do something or not, I am reminded of a line in the Zac Brown Band song, “As She’s Walking Away,” where Alan Jackson, who collaborated on the song, sings, “Don’t let regret take the place of the dreams you have to chase.” Who in country music or life in general, past or present, has been an inspiration to you, and why?
The first thought that popped into my head was, those who have longevity. I’m inspired to keep my nose to the grindstone by artists like Haggard, Willie Nelson, Clapton, McCartney and let’s not forget Michelangelo Buonarroti! Ha!
In 50 years, when your work is done, what do you hope Clint Black will be best remembered for as a singer/songwriter/entertainer and as a man?
I like your timeline! As an artist, that I didn’t sell out. Always did my music, my way. I had to go the indy route, but it’s worth it. As a man … through ceaseless efforts, became a better person each day than I was the day before.
You will be in Frederick on March 22, and it looks like a ton of tour dates are following on this national tour. What can fans expect to see and hear at this show? Do you share some stories from your career and music?
I’m in rehearsals this week, so I’m not certain what will stick to the show, but it will be a lot of hits and a couple of “album cuts.” Also, some of the songs from my latest, “On Purpose.” I will share some funny “thoughts” on the songs, or the show and the audience can expect to hear some first-rate musicians accompanying me. I’ll play a good bit of harmonica and I’m playing a lot more lead guitar than I used to. We also have a great sound engineer so the audio mix in the theater should be very good.
We’re excited to be coming to Frederick!
This concert is part of the WFRE Free Country Rewind concert series at the Weinberg Center, which includes Sawyer Brown on April 22 and Rodney Atkins on May 9. More information and tickets for these shows can be found at www.weinbergcenter.org or 301-600-2828.
You can read more about Clint Black at Three Chords and the Truth, http://tinyurl.com/y8yhtt2y.