When CMT.com sat down with Clint Black to talk about everything — like that gig in Houston that was paying him next to nothing — that led to his 1989 hit song “Killin’ Time,” it turns out that sometimes, good ideas happen in bad situations.
This is Black’s CMT HitStory.
Black wrote “Killin’ Time” with Hayden Nicholas and put it on his 1989 debut album of the same name.
“Hayden and I were driving to some $50 gig on the north side of Houston, talking about just how long it was taking. I said, ’I just hope it starts soon because this killing time is killing me.’ We looked at each other. Our eyes lit up,” Black told us.
The 31-year-old song seems to still have that effect on Black and his dedicated fans, which is why he named his recent live album Still Killin’ Time after it.
“I’d gotten my record deal in 1987 and spent most of 1988 working on the album. It was just seeming to take forever before the release of the album. We knew we had the makings of a song, but it took a long time to write,” he recalled.
“We got through most of it, but there was the elusive last line of the chorus that took us about a month to find our way to it,” he said of the line about dying and being eternally doomed to be killin’ time.
Once they had that line, Black said, the song made history quickly, even though it was a last-minute addition to his first album. Black said that initially, he and Nicholas just recorded the song on an 8-track in Nicholas’ garage.
“It felt like we had something. It became the album title and the second single. I figured if country fans heard that song, they would like it. You hope that you get some love on it, but that’s always that thing that’s unspoken.
“I knew my life had changed. And I drove past the bar I played at many times for $50 or less, and I had this strong feeling that suddenly hit me,” he said, “that walking into a bar in Houston’ll never be the same.”
Since Black’s debut album was released right around the time that country fans were getting hooked on music videos, he made one for “Killin’ Time.”
“We shot it at a little bar called My Place in Sealy, Texas, between Houston and San Antonio. I had family around. A lot of my family’s in that video. Had a guy in the video on the dance floor that dances by and we make eye contact. That was believed to be George Strait for a while,” he admits now, “but it’s actually my older brother, Brian.”
The next stop on Black’s Still Killin’ Time 30th Anniversary Tour is on March 6 at the Meadows Events Center in Altoona, Iowa.