Clint Black had time to kill when making On Purpose, his first new album in a decade. The multi-platinum-selling country legend was having too much fun — and wearing too many hats — making the LP to be in any sort of rush.
“I’ve been a maniac,” he told Rolling Stone Country earlier this summer while still putting the finishing touches on the new music. “I’ll spend two days getting a guitar part just right, when I could be hiring guys like Brent Mason to come over and do it in an hour. It may take two days for me to get to a point where I’m satisfied, but I like doing that because I’m getting better as I do it. I’d never played slide guitar on a record, and the more I learned it, the more I wanted to do it myself. “
Slide guitar, harmonica, electric and acoustic guitar are among the instruments Black plays on the record, which he revealed today will hit stores September 25th. He also wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks, helped produce and engineer the album and even sang his own background vocals on some of the songs. The entire project was made in the state-of-the-art studio he built inside his Nashville home, allowing him to be the 12-hour-per-day workaholic he thoroughly enjoys being.
On Purpose takes its name from a lyric in “Better and Worse,” a stomping song that Black, who never really stopped touring during the long stretch in between albums, has been testing out on the road. Co-written with Frank Rogers (Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley), the groove-filled tune is about being content with the fact that “not everything’s gonna go my way.”
“I got a little money. . . but it’s in her purse,” he sings in one of the song’s many smile-inducing lines.
Collaborators also include the singer’s wife of 24 years, Lisa Harman Black, on a song that undoubtedly reflects their marriage, “You Still Get to Me,” co-written with Victoria Shaw. The track starts as a call-and-response but then bleeds into the couple harmonizing on lyrics depicting a relationship that has stood the test of time. It’s the pair’s third time to record a duet, following the now-classic “Easy for Me to Say” and “When I Said I Do,” with the latter being an ACM award winner that topped the country charts in 1999 — one of almost two dozen Number One hits of his electrifying career. But even Black himself will be surprised if terrestrial radio latches on to “You Still Get to Me” — or any other of On Purpose‘s tracks, for that matter.
“The battle for airplay. . . we’re not going to be in that fight. It’ll have to be a fan-driven thing,” he says, explaining that current country radio trends were far from his mind when making the album. “I’m not going to waste time trying to fit into someone else’s model. I interact with my fans on Facebook and Twitter, and I know that new music is important to them. So what’s come out of it now is excitement to get it to them. . . and I don’t care if that’s just ten of them! They’re the ones who’ve stayed with me.”