Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Clint Black, “When My Ship Comes In”

“When My Ship Comes In”

Clint Black

Written by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas


#1 (2 weeks)

March 27 – April 3, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 26, 1993

An optimistic Clint Black hit foreshadows the next phase of his career.

The Road to No. 1

Two deliciously dark records from The Hard Way – “We Tell Ourselves” and “Burn One Down” – preceded “When My Ship Comes In” at the top. It sounds like a record from an entirely different artist.

The No. 1

It’s also the first record in this feature that I’ve revisited and completely reassessed.

My dad loved Clint Black, and he particularly loved this song.  He used to crank up the video every time it came on.

I never shared his enthusiasm for it, and had my knives out, ready to slice it up.

And then I played it again and my God.   Maybe it’s missing him, or maybe it’s being in my early forties,  not much younger than he was when this song came out.   Maybe it’s both.

But I love this song now.  I don’t know how I missed the way that the fiddle mirrors the dogged belief that better days are ahead, or how Black’s vocal manages to be weary and hopeful at the same time.

Black’s music as a whole is going to go in a much more positive direction moving forward, and “When My Ship Comes In” builds that bridge from honky tonk sorrow to happily married bliss.

Dad, you were right.

The Road From No. 1

A stellar duet with Wynonna, “A Bad Goodbye,” just missed the top of the singles chart.  That was the first single from Black’s fourth studio album, No Time to Kill.  The title track will top the chart in the fall of 1993.

“When My Ship Comes In” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Garth Brooks, “Learning to Live Again”


  1. Your dad had great taste!

    This has always been one of my favorite Clint Black songs, as well, and it was actually one of my favorite songs on the radio as a little kid when it first came out. I remember telling my step dad one day how much I really liked this song, and a while later, he surprised me by bringing home Clint’s The Hard Way album on cd. That was my first Clint Black album, and it was one of the last country albums I remember him getting me before my attention began to shift temporarily towards Mom’s favorite oldies station later in the Spring of 1993.

    While “Burn One Down” has become my favorite single off that album, I still really love this song, as well, and it still brings back some great memories. It’s funny how as a little kid, I never heard how different it was compared to his previous songs, but as a teen, I started noticing the change in direction he began to make around this time. You also especially made some excellent points about the lovely fiddle playing and Clint’s vocals. I particularly really like how he sings the second verse. Not to mention, it’s always just been extremely catchy to my ears! I only have one small disagreement with the metaphor used, as least weather wise. I would gladly take the cabin in the snowy Rockies over any beach setting any day, lol.

    Before my step dad bought the Hard Way album, I also actually had this song recorded from the radio on to one of the last country tapes I made before I took my little detour towards 50’s and 60’s oldies. Unfortunately, that tape ended up getting recorded over years later. Besides the Clint Black song, other ones I remember being on it are: “I’m That Kind Of Girl” by Patty Loveless, “When You Say Nothing At All” by Keith Whitley, “Too Busy Being In Love” by Doug Stone, “Never Had It So Good” by Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Tonight I Climbed The Wall” by Alan Jackson, and “High Rollin'” by The Gibson/Miller Band.

    Btw, it was pretty cool to recently hear this song playing during a scene in the 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme film, Nowhere To Run.

    I’ve also always really liked “A Bad Goodbye,” and it’s a bit surprising to learn it wasn’t a number one, given how popular of a recurrent it was for us throughout the decade and into the early 00’s. That one was also a good indicator on the more contemporary direction Clint would take his music in the coming years, imo.

  2. I’ve always loved this song! The upbeat lyrics/sentiment are equally matched by the production.

    “A Bad Goodbye” was really good too and I’m surprised it didn’t hit #1.

  3. Clint Black is probably my favorite 90s country singer. His voice is just amazing.

    This song is among my very favorites that he has recorded. Next to the singles from his debut album, this ranks right up there with them.

    However, if I ever put together a complete list of CB songs that I love to listen to, it would be a BIG list.

  4. I agree with Kevin that this song marks a crossing over for Black. As much as I loved the weariness and weight of Black’s honky tonk years, it was obvious I just loved Clint Black as an artist because I continued to purchase his albums as he explored devotional love songs and more hopeful themes.

    This video certainly stands out in my mind as one of the era’s most memorable ones from CMT.

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