Billy Ray Cyrus’ CMT sitcom, Still the King has several elements of art imitating life, mainly through his country star-turned-convict character. The actor-musician uses that same strategy in his brand-new “Thin Line” video, but in a dramatic, rather than comedic, fashion. In the new clip, Cyrus blurs lines between acting and acting as himself — and weaves in real-life memorabilia into the artful storyline.
Sporting a camouflage ballcap, untucked flannel shirt and jeans, the singer spends a lot of the video looking with a serious, almost mournful face at keepsakes of the past: a handwritten letter from Johnny Cash, a CMA award, a magazine article predicting he’d be the next Elvis. . . He strums his guitar inside the very casual sitting room of a very elegant house, as a gorgeous woman (who may or may not be a ghost) haunts him, as do memories of their highs and lows together. Children run and play inside the house as Cyrus wanders the halls, that same despondent look on his face. But counteracting the melancholy are encouraging words that dance across the screen — not the song’s lyrics, but rather short phrases such as, “I’m in your corner” and “Let ’em have it.”
Featuring Shelby Lynne on harmonies, “Thin Line” is the title track of the country singer’s latest album. The song’s lyrics came to Cyrus after a meeting with CMT about his new show. Executives asked him to describe the plot in one sentence, and his answer was, “Well, it’s like a thin line between Elvis and Jesus.” Someone in the room jokingly suggested, “That’s a country song,” and Cyrus was inspired. He wrote most of the song that same night — including the line about Elvis and Jesus, along with more serious analogies, like a thin line between “the gates of hell and heaven above.”
Thin Line is out now; Still the King returns to CMT in 2017.