When Clint Black released the song A Better Man, it broke records and made him an instant hit country artist. Snagging the number one spot on the charts can be tough and tricky to achieve for newcomers in the music industry. However, Black was able to beat the odds with this very moving song of his.

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Clint Black co-wrote A Better Man, his debut song with Hayden Nicholas, a long-time collaborator of his. The song served as the first single from his debut album, Killin’ Time. On June 10, 1989, four months after its release in February, Black’s track soared to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart.

Black was the first artist to gain such exemplary success with just his debut single since Freddy Fender.

But what is the secret behind A Better Man?

You could say that his success can be attributed to the message and theme behind his hit track. The lyrics of the song were inspired by a recent breakup he had then with a girl he’d been dating for seven years. Although it was a long relationship, Clint’s perspective zeroed in on how their encounter and the unfortunate ending of their love story helped change him to become a better man.

A country song about leaving someone was usually going to be beating that someone over the head with that song. Don’t you usually get something good out of the relationship? Especially the ones that last a while. Female listeners—and that’s a huge part of the audience—I think they had to have enjoyed hearing a guy singing about a girl and a relationship that didn’t work out, where there wasn’t something terribly wrong with the girl.” Black discloses.

He then pitched the idea to Nicholas, and the latter had immediately formed the perfect rhythm for the song, along with the perfect pitch line, I’m leaving you a better man, for knowing you this way. The song was such a hit that it still continues to receive significant airplay at present.

Songs about moving on that leave a positive perception about the separation is an undeniably refreshing take on relationships that didn’t go quite well, don’t you think?