Keith Urban barely appeared in last year’s video for “Somewhere in My Car,” a steamy clip that focused less on the singer and more on a pair of window-fogging, hot-and-heavy actors. “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” is a different story. Directed by Shane Drake, the new video shines a light — literally — on Urban, who spends most of the clip performing on a soundstage, his silhouette covered in a changing series of colors and patterns.
“We didn’t want it to be 100 percent literal about every lyric,” Urban explains. “That was the most important thing for me, so [the video] became more about playing, more about performance [and] singing. . . I like everybody to be able to paint their own picture of things, so there’s sort of more random imagery and so forth of certain things that relate to the song without being so specific.”
Co-written by Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Ross Copperman, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” pays tribute to a decade’s worth of American traditions, from Tom Petty and John Wayne to Pepsi Cola. The video follows suit, cycling its way through sepia-toned shots of ice cream crops, train tracks, town squares, factory workers, rivers, small-town bars and laundromats. Every clip flies past the camera quickly, like landscape outside the window of a speeding car, and the result is a video that tips its hat to Urban’s adopted home country by focusing on the small things.
Urban is still the video’s highlight, though. He’s like an all-knowing narrator, cut off from the actual action but still able to drive the song forward with his own performance shots. Bonus: he spends most of the time playing the electric bass, proof that even guitar heroes need to lay down the ax once in awhile.