Clint Black: Applauding The Internet And Singing On The Moon

Clint Black took a two-and-a-half year break from the road after working like a dog since bursting on the charts with “Better Man” in 1989. Now he’s back in the fast lane taking his Taillights for a spin.

The country radio mainstay recently embarked on a 100-city U.S. tour in support of his eighth and latest album, Nothin’ But The Taillights, which is still riding the Top 20 after 41 weeks on Billboard’s country album chart. To make sure he doesn’t conk out, his current tour is laid out where he gets to make a few pit stops along the way.

Black isn’t very good at cooling his engines, though. Even during his long stretch off the road in 1996 and ’97, the singer stretched his talents to acting, taking the starring role in the CBS special Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack. Playing opposite his wife and former Knot’s Landing star Lisa Hartman-Black, the Houston-bred charmer portrayed Jack Favor, a true-life rodeo champion who served eight years in prison after being framed for a double murder.

Currently taking a very short tour intermission, the hard-working entertainer isn’t exactly sitting idle on this “break,” either. “The breaks need to be longer,” Black insists, “because that’s always where the great opportunities fall. If somebody asks me to sing on the moon, I can’t do it unless I have a break–time off the road to actually do it. It isn’t easy for me to sit still. I try to take time off, and I end up staying very busy.”

Not only is he using his “time off” to record “Slavery, Deliverance & Faith” — a song inspired by the upcoming animated Moses epic Prince of Egypt–Black is also taking a big part in TNN/’s first ever Wild, Wild Web Week. Among this week’s list of interactive events,Clint Black will visit Prime Time Country on May 19 at 9 p.m. ET. Clint and Gary Chapman will take live online questions from fans during the show. Clint will also join fans online before the show in the Chat Auditorium from 7:30-8:00 p.m. ET.

The perfect man for the job, Black is what George Jones amusingly calls a “High-Tech Redneck”

A computer savvy honky-tonker, Black owns three different Internet accounts, regularly makes online purchases, conducts business through e-mail, utilizes software to keep his busy schedule straight and, most important to country music listeners, he keeps close tabs on his website and uses the Internet to communicate with fans. In other words, he digs the new media landscape.

“When I finish a show,” Black says, “I really should shut up so I don’t wear out my vocal chords. Going online and letting my brain wind down that way, in which I’m not required to talk, is helpful. When I check into a hotel, the first thing I do is plug in my computer and check my mail. Then I always see what everybody is saying about the show I did the night before–getting that instant feedback.”

And while there are detractors who believe high-tech recording gear and sterile (overproduced) music go hand-in-hand, Black explains that computer technology actually gives him a creative and organic edge. “What it allows me to do is sit down at home and work out my ideas. I lay down the various tracks, and I make Lisa sing background vocals. By the time I get to the studio, the musicians and recording engineers have a good map to go by. We then see what works and what doesn’t.”

Electronics have the ability to turn us into slackers because they do much of our work for us; but, as Black points out, they can also push us to extend ourselves. Taillights turned out different than all of Black’s previous albums because he handled the six-string on this one. He didn’t only express himself through his writing and singing, but also through his guitar playing. Once again, he thanks computer technology. With the luxury of recording part of the album at home on his computer hard drive, he took the time himself to work out the guitar parts. “There’s no way I would have tried to do all the electric guitar stuff in the studio,” he says. “I would have been looking around at professional session musicians who can do it in one-tenth of the time it takes me to do it, and I would have just handed them the guitar.”

There are just so many advantages to using my computer. I’ll never go back to doing it the old way.”