Clint Black Talks Coming Up With The “Class Of ’89” And His Feelings On Rap In Country Music Ahead Of “Talking In Circles With Clint Black” Season 4 Premiere

Clint Black country music

Clint Black is getting back in the interviewer seat as he gears up for the premiere of the fourth season of his Circle Network show Talking in Circles with Clint Black.

If you’ve never watched the show, it features Clint sitting down with folks not only within country music, but also from TV, sports, comedy…pretty much anybody and everybody who would be interesting to talk to.

But during a recent taping of the show, we decided to interview the interviewer and get his thoughts on not only coming up in ’90s country, but also the direction of country music today.

Clint is obviously one of the legends of ’90s country, getting his start as part of the incredible “Class of ’89” that came on the heels of the traditional country resurgence of the ’80s with guys like George Strait, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley.

The Class of ’89 was one of the most talented group of singers that country music had ever had break onto the scene in a single year – names like Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, and of course, Clint Black. They set the stage for an era of country music that’s still regarded as one of the best decades for country music – ever. With a return to neo-traditional sounds and a focus on songwriting, country music saw not only a resurgence, but a growth unlike any it had experienced before.

But according to Clint, the stage was set long before that Class of ’89 came onto the scene:

“I think there was such a surge of talent and the record companies were doing so well that they kept signing people and signing people. And there were so many of us who were influenced by all the greats in country – Willie, Waylon, Merle, Buck, George, all of those guys – with Ricky Skaggs and George Strait and Reba, Randy Travis, really kicking the door in by the time we got there, it was just primed and ready to go.

So many of us grew up on those country music talents but also on The Eagles and Buffett and James Taylor and Lynyrd Skynyrd and all of that stuff. You had these really well-influenced people coming into their own in country music.

Country music over the mid-to-late ’80s really sort of grew up technically, and the standard for songwriting was really, really tough.”

Clint was one of the lucky ones though: He was able to break into country music at a time when many of those influences that he named were still active and touring, which provided him the opportunity to work with many of his heroes:

“My #1 favorite in country is Merle, so getting to work with Merle and write with Merle, that was one of those things you don’t even put in a dream. So when it happens it’s just this great big surprise.

Signing on a George Jones record, you don’t dream of that. That stuff, that’s pie-in-the-sky. And then you get into the business and you step into this painting you’ve been looking at all your life and suddenly you’re getting to do these things.”

Obviously country music has gone through a lot of changes since the ’90s – some of them good, but most of them not. And for a traditional country guy like Clint, he likes seeing country music making a move back towards the traditional country sound that dominated the ’90s:

“We saw a lot of the blending. A lot of what came along was the blending in of pop and hip-hop. I was never a fan of hip-hop and rap – who’d a thunk it? – so I like where it’s going.”

Clint also specifically mentioned rising star Shane Profitt as somebody who he enjoys listening to, who seems to be moving the genre back towards traditional country:

“I got name-checked by Shane Profitt, and Shane to me, he’s just coming up now, just getting going, and to me he’s in there with the Luke Combs, the Morgan Wallen, the Chris Janson, all of the what I consider real country lyrics. And also what I think of as country music.

I’ve become quite fond of him as a person, but also just his style. I love the sound of those records.”

On his show Talking in Circles, Clint ends each episode by asking his guest the same question: When they get to heaven, who’s the one person they want to meet and collaborate with?

So I had to end my interview with Clint by asking him the same question:

“I don’t have a good answer, but the one thing I never did on stage is sing with Merle. So I’d have to sing with him.”

The Hag is never a bad answer.

Season 4 of Talking in Circles with Clint Black premieres on the Circle Network this Saturday, May 13 at 10:00 PM eastern/9:00 PM central, and features an incredible roster of guests including Ricky Skaggs, Tanya Tucker, Kathie Lee Gifford, Terry Bradshaw, and a hilarious episode with comedian and former SNL cast member Kevin Nealon that was filmed the night I was there.

And just because I still believe this is damn near the perfect country song…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock