Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Clint Black, “We Tell Ourselves”

“We Tell Ourselves”

Clint Black

Written by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 7, 1992

Clint Black launches his third album with a compelling rocker.

The Road to No. 1

Clint Black took a short hiatus between his second and third album.  The final single from Put Yourself in My Shoes, “Where are You Now,” went to No. 1 in September of 1991.  He returned to radio with “We Tell Ourselves,” the lead single from The Hard Way.

The No. 1

“We Tell Ourselves” is a killer record.

The hard driving arrangement is more aggressive than anything Clint Black had recorded up until that point, and it heightens the potency of the frustrated lyric.

Black is shaking off the shared delusion that things are going well and getting ready to reject the lies that he’s been telling himself.

Black is one of the smartest lyricists that has ever graced the genre, and when he was applying that skill to songs of heartache and despair, he melded Roger Miller’s wit with Merle Haggard’s emotional intelligence.   “We Tell Ourselves” is one of his pinnacle achievements.

The Road From No. 1

Clint Black has two more No. 1 singles on the way from The Hard Way.  The next one’s even better than this one.

“We Tell Ourselves” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Mark Chesnutt, “I’ll Think of Something”


  1. I’m in agreement. I think “The Hard Way” gets a bit of a bad wrap as an album, just because it does feel like a bit “different” than his previous works. But, he crushes it with the singles on it, particularly the first two. “We Tell Ourselves” is just a such a ball of energy, and the style melds perfectly with the confusion that the narrator is dealing with and the realization he is coming to, that…what he believed in was a lie. I also love the instrumental jam that ends it too.

  2. This is not really one of my top favorites from Clint, but it’s still a pretty enjoyable and fun listen, and I like it. Like Mike, I’ve always enjoyed the jam session at the end where all the musicians got a chance to shine. I also love the great fiddle playing throughout, and the fancy steel playing at the end! I also agree with Kevin that it’s actually very well written. Clint’s clever way with lyrics is something I never truly appreciated until I got a lot older.

    Strangely this is another Summer of ’92 song I don’t have much recollection of hearing when it originally came out (Perhaps maybe because we were pretty busy then between looking for new houses and then later moving our things into our new house. Therefore, I wasn’t glued close to the radio like I’d usually been when I was recording tapes earlier in the year). My real introduction to this song was when my step dad bought me Clint’s The Hard Way album in early 1993 because “When My Ship Comes In” was one of my favorites at the time. On the other hand, my dad always remembered hearing it on the radio a lot back when he was working graveyard shift around the Fall of ’92.

    As I had mentioned in the “Where Are You Now” entry, this album definitely marked a slight change in production and vocal style for Clint, and this song was a prime example. James Stroud’s production also sounds a lot more like the typical more contemporary and aggressive style he’d use on many albums going forward for the next few years. That said, I consider The Hard Way to be Clint’s last solid neo-traditional sounding album before his records started showing more pop and rock influences and became hit or miss affairs.

    Kevin, I’m totally with you on the next single after this, and I’m very much looking forward to when we get to it. :)

  3. I will repeat my potentially inflammatory opinion that I believe a line can be drawn from Roger Miller to Clint Black to Sam Hunt connecting their smart, some-what wordy lyricism.

    Staying with Clint Black, I like the punch of this single. The intensity of the vocals and instrumentation do shine. I think something is lost in Black’s vocals as he consistently performs in this higher register going forward. He became a less appealing singer for me as the darker, more atmospheric, lower tones were dropped from his vocals over time. It doesn’t help that he coincidentally started writing middle of the road love songs at this point of his career as well. Admittedly, that criticism comes later than this album, and, even when it does, and he is still pretty damn good singing saccharine love songs in a range unpleasant to my ears!

    This album represents a crossing over for me with Clint Black but it is still pretty amazing country music. He is still at the top of the class!

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