A Conversation with Delbert McClinton
Puremusic: Good morning. Frank Goodman calling. Can I speak with Delbert, please?
Delbert McClinton: You got him, Frank.
PM: Hey, Delbert. How are you today?
DM: I'm good. How are you?
PM: Okay. We're so pleased to have you on the cover of Puremusic.
DM: Well, I'm proud to be there.
PM: Thank you, sir. You know, looking at the covers of Room to Breathe and Nothing Personal, you're looking so good. I wonder--
DM: Well, thank you.
PM: --how the hell do you stay so young?
DM: [laughs] Oh, man. Thanks. I don't know how to answer that. Just lucky, I guess. I'm a happy guy. I think that may have something to do with it.
PM: I think it's got to have everything to do with it.
DM: Oh, I think it does too. You know, for whatever reason, my life just seems to be in better balance than it's ever been. I've got a wonderful family. I can afford to pretty much do anything I want to do, within reason. I mean, I'm not a rich guy, but I'm not hurting. And I'm writing songs, one after another. I've got the best band in the world. I love what I do, and life is just good.
PM: You got kids, Delbert?
DM: I got two grown sons. I got a boy who was 41 yesterday.
PM: My Lord!
DM: And I got a boy who will be 28 in a few days, on the 6th of September. And I got a nine year old daughter.
PM: Wow. Any of them gone the musical route?
DM: Yeah, my youngest son is just eat up with it. He lives out in Flagstaff, and he's playing in three different bands.
PM: Guitar player?
DM: He's a guitar player, a harmonica player, singer.
PM: That's great.
DM: And he's great.
PM: You know, congratulations just on surviving, when so many have not.
DM: [laughs] Well, that's a pretty good trick in itself, I guess. I have managed to be a survivor, and I know that it ain't easy.
PM: Yeah. There are a lot of pitfalls and potholes out there. It's a funny question in a way, but what is it like to not only have survived, but to be recognized, truly, as one of the very greatest blues and R&B singers ever?
DM: Well, you know, that stuff, I got to look at that like the old saying, "Don't start believing your press," you know?
DM: You start believing your press, you're in trouble. I've always wanted to do this and be good at it, forever. Ever since I started doing it, I wanted to do this, and constantly get better. And I've been sidetracked several times. But I've always been able to get back on track and make it better. And man, I think that's a pretty good definition of success right there.
PM: Yeah, I do too.
DM: I haven't sold nearly as many records as a lot of people, but I've had such a great career, in an odd way, you know. I'm kind of the guy that won't go away. [laughs]
PM: Yes, but also, as a number of people have called it, that was such a powerful second coming of Delbert McClinton, Nothing Personal winning the Grammy last year.
DM: Yeah, that was a really nice thing.
PM: Just unbelievable. I mean, how did that change your life? It had to do something, right?
DM: Well, it did. And the best part about it was, after the fiasco of Rising Tide [a very promising new label that suddenly went belly up]--I mean, that record was out and running and doing better than any record I ever had. It was selling steady, and fast and hard, and all the juice was going, and everything was working. And then Universal [the parent company] made one phone call to Rising Tide here, and said, "Stop everything. It's over." Just like that, that was it. And it all quit. And the record kind of just shot off into a black hole. continue