Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Clint Black

REDEFINING THE COWBOY IN LOVE

"I LIKE TO MAKE TRADITIONAL albums that still show the influence of pop and rock," says Clint Black, 31, speaking from the L.A. home he shares with his wife, actress Lisa Hartman, 37. "I started out playing bass in my brother Kevin's band: he was into '50s bebop, the guitar player was into the Psychedelic Furs, and the drummer was into all kinds of jazz. One minute I'd be doing Yes licks on the bass, the next minute 'Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.' "

Black says that his interest in different styles of music has helped him define his own. "When you've heard extremes, from Hank Williams to Frank Zappa, it's real easy to know how a country song should sound."

The performer attributes his knack for authoring some of country's most enlightened love songs to his strong feelings about the need for understanding in relationships. "I always try to imagine myself in the situation I'm writing about: to be strong but vulnerable, and capable of being hurt but not of being crushed," he says. "The same thing has to be true for the other person, or it doesn't warrant a song. If the person I'm singing about is a heel, then what am I crying for?

"When I hear lyrics like, 'You kicked me in the teeth, stole my truck and left, then you came back and burned the house down and left again, oh, please come home! I mean, get a clue! You need to cry over something that matters, and you have to be able to move on. That's what 'A Better Man' is all about. Hey—that's what life is all about."

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