It's been 30 years since Clint Black burst onto the country music with his freshman Killin' Time album — a collection of ten songs that included four No. 1 singles, and helped usher in a new decade in country music, literally and figuratively. With three decades passing since then, Black decided to celebrate the milestone with his new album, Still Killin' Time, a collection of both previous hits and new songs.
"I wanted to commemorate this great occasion," Black told PopCulture.com. "Looking back 30 years, 30 years ago, when I first put my band together and showcased for RCA, we went out on the road and they recorded the album with me ... I really wanted everyone to get along and sting with me through the long haul. I said to them, 'I wanna look around on this stage 30 years from now and see the same faces.' And so, for some reason, that number 30 was this big milestone or some kind of marker for me, even back then.
"And now, looking back, that album just paved the way for so many great things to happen for me in my life, and it was the one that kicked down the door, " he continued. "So I thought, let's do something to commemorate that. I'd never released any live music, and so I wanted to do some from that album and some from the albums that followed."
Those songs on Still Killin' Time include his collaborative effort on "This Old House," with artists like Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins, Michael Ray and more, as well as a couple of songs that Black has held onto for the duration of his career.
"I had two songs that were already written when we record Killin' Time, but we could only put 10 songs on an album back then, of course, so they got set aside," Black revealed. "And, they just kept not fitting in for one reason or another. We already have a waltz now for this album or there are too many ballads on this album and they were just forgotten about."
Not many artists can claim 30 busy years in country music, but Black isn't most artists. While he jokes that the secret to his longevity is water and liquor, in truth it was his mindset as much as his talent that helped him stay busy all these years.
"I really decided I'm not an overly competitive person," Black said. "I like to compete with myself. I wanna exceed my own dreams and expectations, so I've always felt like as long as I work hard on what I do, I can be around and I don't have to be at the top. I remember a Paul McCartney interview when he said, 'When you're at the top, it's perilous up there. They're all gunning for you you ... When you settle in comfortably to the middle, that's when you really start to enjoy all of the aspects of a career.' I'm paraphrasing. That's the way it's been for me. I still get to do what I love.
"I work harder at it now than ever before," he remarked. "I practice for hours most every day. I've studied engineering. I wanna get better at making records. And, I feel like, as a singer, as a guitarist, as a producer, I'm still improving and I still have a ways to go. And, I think, for anyone out there, whatever you do, if you have something you love to do, you have something to look forward to, it'll keep you going."
The Music City Walk of Fame member might already have 30 years under his belt, but he sees no reason why he can't go for 30 more.
"Obviously, I'm gonna be ready to put more days of fishing in there on the calendar, but I look around at guys like Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels and McCartney and Eric Clapton, so many," Black reflected. "James Taylor, still making great records, still great live, and they serve as models for me that if I keep up my health and stay fresh on my instruments and keep my vocal cords in shape, I'll keep doing it."
Purchase Still Killin' Time at ClintBlack.com.
Photo Credit: Getty / Gary Miller