Clint Black Reflects On New Album & Cracker Barrel Partnership

Russ Harrington

Clint Black

Clint Black knows a good deal when he sees one, and the opportunity to partner up with Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores for his latest release, "When I Said I Do," was too good of one to resist.

“I’ve been working on a lot of new music, and Cracker Barrel asked me to do a CD just for them compiled of some love songs that I had previously re-recorded, and some new songs,” the singer told Billboard. “I’m really excited to give fans a sampling of what I’ve been up to.”

Black had nothing but strong words of admiration for Julie Craig and her marketing team at Cracker Barrel. “They have been great to work with, and I know my fans will love going there for the CD, and to eat some great southern-style food. Fried okra is my favorite thing there,” Black allowed, also saying the door was open for future collaborations between the two. “It’s been fantastic. I would love to do more of these projects.”

"When I Said I Do" contains fourteen tracks -- three new ones, plus re-recordings of eleven songs originally recorded during his stint with RCA. He said that re-visiting his past gave him a chance to approach some songs from a fresh angle.

“Some of them I went in a different direction with, so if you’ve ever wanted to see what I might have done differently with a song you liked, then this is the CD for you,” he says. Some songs, however, he didn’t want to change too much, if at all.

“In other cases, I was so happy with what I had done originally that I didn’t have any idea about what I would have changed, so I tried to record it so much like the past that you really can’t tell. I hired the same musicians, same conductor, and arranger, and worked painstakingly going back and forth, always comparing and trying to get every part of it as close.”

One song that Black changed slightly was “Like The Rain,” originally a hit in 1996. “I always wanted to hear Lisa’s voice more, so I had her and Steve Wariner do the background vocals,” he said, referring to his wife, Lisa Hartman Black.

He says that a slight difference of opinion with his wife led him to pen the song. “She had moved to Hollywood and lived out there for years before we ever met. I grew up in Houston, and didn’t come to Nashville until I was twenty-seven. I had seen plenty of rain, and she wasn’t getting any rain in Southern California. So, she would get excited when it rained, and I would think ‘Enough with the rain already,'” he recalled, laughing.

However, seeing his wife’s reaction to the rain changed his mindset altogether. “But, I grew to appreciate it because it always made her so happy. One time, we were in Nashville watching it rain, and it was really pouring. She was real happy about it, and I didn’t mind because it wasn’t getting on my head. So, I pulled out a guitar and thought, ‘What would a rainy song sound like?’ I started playing that chord progression, and came up with the first verse. I waited until I got together with Hayden Nicholas, and we wrote the song. It’s the truth. I really do appreciate the rain in a way I never did before.”

Of the new material, one of the highlights is “Samantha,” a song that is taken from the upcoming television show “Aussie Adventures.” Black said the tune was very meaningful to him. “It’s a family show set in Australia back in 1901. I had to straddle the fence between writing lyrics an American audience would understand, but also using enough Aussie slang to give it that flavor. I was hired to write the songs for the musical a few years ago, and ‘Samantha,’ because it’s a love song between a father and a daughter, I thought would fit this CD well. It’s a real traditional styled song, one that really speaks to my heart.”

"When I Said I Do" will be released on August 6 at all Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations.