The Illumination of Film

I discovered most of my favorite country artists through music videos. Throughout the nineties, CMT played videos around the clock, giving equal weight to mainstream, veteran and Americana artists.

Music videos feel like a quietly dying art form these days, if only because there seems to be fewer outlets for them to garner the exposure that makes their expense worthwhile.

It’s a shame because the very best videos can illuminate the accompanying song, adding layers of depth to the original material.

There is one particular video that does this so well that I have trouble watching it all the way through. Some of you know that I am a teacher. Kenny Chesney’s clip for “Who You’d Be Today”, a song that laments the death of someone young, opens with a basketball game between two teenagers, one of whom will grow into a soldier who perishes overseas.

Click through to watch:


What videos best illuminate a song’s subject matter for you? Post your picks and, if possible, a YouTube clip in the comments below.

For YouTube clips, simply copy and paste the URL, adding a v after the http.




  1. There are just some songs that were made for video, and it’s tough to mess them up. One that came to mind right away was Steve Azar’s “Waitin’ On Joe” (embedding disabled, but just click on the screen, and it will take you to the video):

    What I enjoy with some country music videos is the storyline with a twist that introduces a different aspect to the song that the viewer may not have thought of before. Surprisingly for me, the new Rascal Flatts video does a great job of that:

  2. I’ve never been much for watching videos. I can only do it for very short periods of time before I get bored. I’d much rather see live performances in front of an audience. While there are some very innovative and creative videos out there, I think for the most part videos have been very detrimental to country music, because they caused the focus to shift from the way an artist sounds to the way he/she looks. It’s more important to look good today than it is to sound good. There are all kinds of studio tricks (i.e, Pro-Tools, etc) to mask vocal deficiencies, so it seems like nobody really cares if an artist can actually sing or not as long as they are physically attractive.

  3. May as well call this the Johnny Cash “Hurt” Memorial Thread. That video lent the recording a great deal more depth than it already had.

  4. Sophie Muller has directed some of my favorite country music videos. She is probably most famous in the country world for directing “Not Ready to Make Nice” and Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved at All,” both of which I love. My two favorites, though, are Hill’s “Stealing Kisses,” which I think beautifully portrays a wife’s loneliness, and “Top of the World” by the Dixie Chicks. It makes an already chilling song that more powerful. Here is the link to the Chicks video. I can’t post “Stealing Kisses” because Warner has made YouTube remove all videos featuring its artists.

  5. httpv://

    Patty’s video here illustrates the joy of the song, but also, gives some insight to her biography in a “full circle” kind of way.

    When Patty Ramey (Loveless) was about six years old, her Dad held her on his shoulders so Patty could see a great performance at a drive-in theater intermission by Flatt and Scruggs. They were singing on top of the conscession stand! It was the first time Patty saw professional musicians perform, and remains one of her most cherished memories.

    And here in this video, Patty comes full circle, returning the favor for a small town crowd in Kentucky, not sure if it’s her actual hometown, but I’m sure it’s very similar… Note how some of the children in the crowd are watching Patty and her band from the vantage of THEIR parents shoulders…A new generation likewise enjoying a great talent in a similar fashiion, recalling a time when Country and Bluegrass singers performed in more intimate and accessible settings.

    This subtle touch, adds to the warmth and charm already inherent in this wonderful video, and is an example of how a little knowledge of a singer’s biography enhances enjoyment and appreciation of their songs and their videos..

  6. OK, after reviewing the videos, some of the girls are on their boyfriends shoulders, and are not quite so young, lol…And that fits with the “boys are back” meaning of the song. But there is that one cute little kid towards the end being hoisted high to see Patty and the band, ..that kind of fits my “full circle” theory. ;)

  7. There are many video’s out there that capture the emotion/theme of the song very well.

    I think to start off, Reba has to be mentioned for her time/depth/interpretation in almost all her music videos. One’s that come to mind by her are Whoever’s In New England, Is There Life Out There, What Do You Say, and the most famous “Fancy”

    Other video’s:

    Whiskey Lullaby – Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss
    The Thunder Rolls – Garth Brooks
    Ready To Run – Dixie Chicks
    Hurt – Johnny Cash
    Tell Me I Was Dreamin’ – Travis Tritt
    Moments – Emerson Drive
    What Hurts The Most – Rascal Flatts
    Come Next Monday – KT Oslen

  8. One of my favorite music videos that continues to move me deeply each time I see it is Kathy Mattea’s “Standing Knee-Deep in a River (Dying of Thirst)”. I love live music performances, particularly those in small performing arts venues, but I do enjoy a beautifully done music video.


  9. A few that come to mind are

    “Independence day”
    “Tell me I was Dreamin”
    “Who You’d Be Today”

  10. My favorite has to be the Dixie Chicks’ “Top of the World.” The video is just so good!! I also love “Whiskey Lullaby” and “What Hurts the Most.” I’m also a big fan of Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ on a Woman” and Carrie Underwood’s “Just a Dream.” I think Carrie did a fantastic job getting the emotional aspect of that song in the video.

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