Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Clint Black, “No Time to Kill”

“No Time to Kill”

Clint Black

Written by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 15, 1993

Clint Black engages with his own mortality.

The Road to No. 1

Clint Black’s lead single from No Time to Kill was a winning duet with touring partner, Wynonna.  “A Bad Goodbye” went top five.  Black released the title track as the second single.

The No. 1

Clint Black had wrestled with time and mortality on some strong album tracks earlier in his career, and “Killin’ Time” is also an obvious predecessor of the ideas and themes found in “No Time to Kill.”

But it is very much its own thing.   “No Time to Kill” is intelligent and challenging, with his trademark wordplay put to use as well as it has ever been used:

“There’s no time to kill between the cradle and the grave. Father Time still takes a toll on every minute that you save.  Legal tender’s never gonna change the number on your days.  The highest cost of living’s dying, that’s one everybody pays.  So have it spent before you get the bill. There’s no time to kill.”

The aggressive production features an unrelenting, driving beat that underscores the urgency of the lyric.  It’s an interesting counterpoint to the young hat acts now following in his footsteps, and while he wouldn’t be above pandering to the youth market in the coming years, “No Time to Kill” demonstrated further growth and maturity of an artist who was pretty substantial right out of the gate.

The Road From No. 1

Clint Black followed “No Time to Kill” with the similarly excellent “State of Mind,” a reflection on the power of music that went top five.  He’d return to No. 1 in the spring of 1994 with the fourth single from this project.

“No Time to Kill” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Clay Walker, “What’s it to You” |

Next: George Strait, “Easy Come, Easy Go”

 

3 Comments

  1. I have sung this song for nearly 30 years, but, seeing the words in print shows how intelligent and Hall Of Fame worthy Clint Black is.

  2. In the moment, “Country Music Magazine” Editor-at-Large Bob Allen described this song as a “near masterpiece: a song full of anguish and urgency that laments the brevity of life and the mad rush from cradle to grave with a frantic rush of near-breathless lyrics and harried instrumentation.”

    Black was really without peer with this style of word-dense songwriting he was increasingly growing into as he moved away from the leaner, hard country honky tonk of his first two albums. If only he could have confidently stayed here because this is another classic.

  3. I’m so thankful for this series, because I forgot just how good Clint Black was at picking/writing material. As a kid I wondered why Clint was so obsessed with time lol, but this is a great song. Great Dobro playing throughout.

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