Country Star Clint Black On His New Album And Why He's Optimistic About America
Grammy-winning country music star Clint Black is out with his 23rd album.
“Out of Sane” is his first in five years, and he admits it’s odd to release new music in the middle of a pandemic. But despite an overwhelming sense of despair across the country, Black says he feels optimistic about the future in the U.S.
“America’s aspirations are great. Its future is always uncertain. We can’t know what’s going to happen next,” he says. “But if history tells us anything, we will get through this, and we will be more united than ever before.”
In his new song, “America (Still In Love With You),” Black sings about a glimmer of hope as we reckon with the consequences of deep structural problems in this country. He says he wants to remind people of those who fought and continue to fight for equality.
“I think if you look around for the tiles that didn’t stick to the wall, then that’s all you’re going to know,” Black says. “But if you focus on the ones that stayed, it might give you hope.”
On working with President Trump as a contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2009
“I don’t really know him. It’s kind of like doing ‘The Tonight Show’ when you’re on camera and the show is running. That’s the interaction.
“He did fire me. I was grateful. And I was headed home and they begged me to come back for the finale as a returning cast member, and I regretted that instantly. It’s such an abusive environment. As far as Donald Trump goes as the president, I think if you hate him, you’re not going to find anything good, and if you love him, maybe you’re not going to find anything bad. You know, I just go with the idea that I have my vote. I’m very private about it. I tend to get upset about government spending, and I haven’t seen anyone do a lot about that. And that should be a bipartisan issue. I don’t know anyone who squanders their own wealth away with disregard, and we shouldn’t stand by and watch our government do it.”
On his cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ ”
“I kind of was inspired to do that by James Taylor, who I noticed for at least a few albums, he would include one cover song. I think it speaks to my influences and hopefully an ability to breathe new life into something that we’ve all loved for years without ruining it in the process.”
On his 1991 song “Where Are You Now”
“That’s one of the rare songs that I wrote on the road. My lead guitar player and I wrote it in the back of the bus. His mom was in trouble, health troubles, and she was the person he had relied on his whole life, and now that person wasn’t there to help him get through this, sort through it. And that was his burning question: Where is that person? Who’s going to help me figure this out?”
On how he remembers the 1990s
“It was a whirlwind. It was you know, it was a time when I was working so hard that my chief concern was, am I going to be able to sing tonight? I remember telling my manager, ‘I’m not Joe Cocker and I don’t want to sound like Joe Cocker,’ you know? We have to remember the kinds of songs I sing and the sounds and the high notes I have to hit, and we’ve got to safeguard. It didn’t happen, so eventually I kind of fought back against that. And yeah, I used to tell people, you know, what drives all of my decisions now is, am I going to be able to hit the high note on ‘Put Yourself In My Shoes’? And it became a fight, almost a desperate fight at times to push back against the pressure to just keep talking.”
On how much longer he will keep releasing new music
“Well, God only knows. Right? You know, it’s all about health. And I still have the desire. I look to people like Willie Nelson, like Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and they give me hope. If James Taylor can still be making some of his best music at his age, maybe I can, too.”
Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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