It’s been five years since Clint Black had a new album of songs and his fans were getting a little restless. They let the singer know that they would like to have new music from him, and the native Texan responded with his new album, Out of Sane, out now.
It’s not unusual for Black to have several years between albums. He remembers when he first signed with RCA and they wanted an album every year, he just didn’t want to do that. “I ended up giving them one every two-and-a-half years,” Black said, explaining, “I wanted to be proud of each album instead of just churning one.”
Plus, Black continues, “It takes me five years to forget how tortured I was at the end of the last album. I’m always a zombie at after we’ve finished an album. It is no longer an art (to record), it is science. Once that process is done, I don’t think I want to do it again for awhile.”
As time goes on, Black will begin to want to write again, and after that first one is written, he does another and another and then he’s into the writing mode for the new project. “Once I’m into it, then management has to give me a deadline or I’ll never finish it. My albums are never calculated, they defy cycles, so I have to have a time frame for me to finish writing and recording or it could go on and on.”
Black is a prolific songwriter, and he and friend Hayden Nichols wrote most of the songs on his first album releases. He says he always tries to write by himself as well as other writers. “I don’t want to become dependent on other writers – I want to be able to motivate myself for inspiration, and I want to make sure that I can still write a song by myself.”
Black began to bring in other writers, heroes of his like Steve Wariner, and he enjoys the experience of writing with all of his co-writers. In fact, Wariner was his co-writer on the first single, “America (Still In Love With You).” Basically a love song to America, the writers maintain that America will stand no matter what, and they will be right there, standing behind her. Black said of Wariner, “He is so great and has a great heart and we hang out and writing is just fun. It’s the same with Hayden, we can talk for hours and not accomplish anything except talking.”
Wariner was coming over to show Black his new Gretsch guitar the day they wrote ‘America.” They had not planned on writing a song. “I told him about the idea for ‘America’ and we started writing it on the spot. We were still writing, and I was calling musicians to see who was available to come in to record it. We were on deadline for the album, and deadline was that day.”
Luckily Black got the musicians to come in and the song made it onto the album just under deadline. He said the song was inspired by watching the election cycle and politicians divide the people more and more as the cycles continue. “The message we wanted to give is that we have a great country even if we fight, and America is the best friend we have and it’s the best place to be. People need to back away from the hate and leave it behind; it doesn’t serve anything. I think for the most part we all have so much more in common than our differences and we need to try to remember the politicians are the ones who benefit from the division, Americans never do. It started from that sentiment. I even started #backawayfromthehate so people can comment there.”
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If you've seen my music video for America (Still In Love With You), you'll notice a photo featured around 2:25 in the video. That’s Silver Star recipient Senior Chief Petty Officer, Kyle Milliken who was killed in action in 2017 and it was my wish to honor him in this video. To learn more about Kyle and the Kyle Milliken Foundation visit: kylegolf.com/about/
The song was written months before the COVID-19 hit, and Black explained that once America hit the quarantine, it took on a whole new meaning.
“There is an American soldier in the video, holding an American flag. His name is Kyle Milliken, and if you link to the Kyle Milliken Foundation you can find out more about him. He was a Navy Seal killed in action, a five-time recipient of the bronze star and one silver star. He was a great American. The Foundation really started out to help his wife Erin and their two children, but once it gave them some security his wife felt like there was a need to do this for all the Gold Star families We are honoring him by finding ways to raise money for the KM Foundation, for all of those families. It is a community helping look after each other.
“The reaction to the song has been good. I don’t know what point of view my fans come from, but we all seem to share the same point of view that we love this country. I mean, if you can find two people who agree on everything, let’s make them king and queen. My wife (Lisa Hartman) and I have been married 29 years and we don’t agree on everything.”
In addition to Nichols and Wariner, Black chose songs co-written with Rivers Rutherford and Marty Stuart, as well as the classic “Everybody’s Talkin’,” written by Fred Neil and made famous by Harry Nielsen.
“It was in (the movie) ‘Midnight Cowboy,’” Black says of the tune. “Every now and then I like to do a cover song if I feel like I can breathe new life into it or reinvent it. I was looking through tunes in my library and saw it. I said “Lets mess with this song,’ so I think we reinvented it but it still speaks to you.”
“Found It Anyway” is a song with an interesting twist on love. Again, Black and Wariner were just getting together one day and the song is the result of that writing session.
“It was me and Steve messing around,” Black said. “I don’t remember how we got started on it, but it’s the idea of a guy wandering along haphazardly and not looking for love and then he just stumbles into it. People look hard for love and never find it. Then there are people who are not looking and they stumble into it. We’ve all heard that story where they weren’t’ looking for love and found it anyway. That’s the guy in this song.”
Black and Nichols put their heads together for another unique song, “What I Knew.” The title for the album comes from a line in this song. “The idea is a twist on the old saying ‘I wish I knew then what I know now.’ The character in this song is someone who has lost track of whatever they knew then, so it was a fun little twist. Musically I did all the guitar stuff except for the outro, that’s Hayden playing electric and I’m on slide, and we finish it out trading off licks. Hayden encouraged me to pick up the electric guitar more, and I love that we’re having this trade off.”
“It’s great, and several of the songs on this record really lean themselves to that. I’m playing a lot more electric, and almost all the slide guitar, and for me in particular it’s fun to play more. I love to hear the other musicians play too. We do these songs every night so we need to create a show that we look forward to playing, but always keeping in mind that we are entertaining an audience. You can’t do it all for yourself, but if you are doing enough for yourself, we all look forward to the show, and that’s infectious. Every night is the world series to me. We’re not just up there playing our songs, it’s always the biggest show we will do for our fans.”