Sunny Sweeney’s “My Bed,” featuring Will Hoge, is a mournful meditation on the breakup of a marriage. And although the track from Sweeney’s terrific 2014 album, Provoked, is kind of an emotional bummer, it’s tough to be depressed around the hilariously outspoken Texan.
When Rolling Stone Country was invited to the Nashville set of the “My Bed” video shoot recently, Sweeney proved she was in fine comic form, but the divorced and now-remarried singer also called on her acting chops (and some still-raw personal memories) to conjure up the emotions needed to convey the song’s dark lyrics when the cameras were rolling. Although the clip includes images of a wedding and of the duet partners performing the song together, for the scenes that reflect the song’s title, Sweeney was seated on one side of the bed, while her co-star was on the other, with his back to her and to the camera.
“Do I need to switch sides?” Sweeney asked the video’s director, Michael Poncé.
“You’re perfect,” he answered.
“Could you tell my manager that?” Sweeney says. “I’m just kidding, he already knows that.”
Asked by a crew member if both are wearing their respective wedding bands, Sweeney confirms that she is, and says that [her husband], “Jeff had it glued to my finger.”
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Hoge, dressed in a v-neck t-shirt and jeans, jokes that he didn’t have to worry about his wardrobe, telling the crew, “This is my standard singer-songwriter outfit. My kids asked me, ‘Daddy, why do you always wear the same clothes?'”
As for their spouses and how they dealt with the two performers spending the day together in bed, Hoge tells Rolling Stone Country, “Our significant others are thrilled about it. They’re actually at a hotel together right now, so it’s fine. Me and my wife got drunk last night. I guess they looked at pictures or something, and she said, ‘I think I told Sunny that her husband was so handsome he looks like he could build shelves on HGTV.'”
Sweeney later noted that it was tough for her to sit still for long, and to stay off her phone and social media sites during the experience.
“I tap my foot a lot with everything,” the gregarious singer says during a break after filming the scenes on the bed. “I felt myself a couple of times, he’s singing his part and I’m just sitting there [tapping my foot]. I’m surprised the bed wasn’t squeaking. Even when I was doing my part, I felt like I was fidgeting. It’s not easy for me to sit still.”
Having never shot a video with another performer before, Sweeney was relieved that there was someone else to take up the slack for her, especially since having to look heartbroken and miserable on-camera means reliving the divorce from her first husband.
“It’s so emotional,” she explains. “I don’t drive around and listen to my own music, but for the last two weeks I’ve been listening to this song a lot because I knew we were doing the video for it. There were a couple of emotional days where I just started crying because I’m happy right now. I’m happily married and actually find it hard to write songs about that time in my life now. I have to actually make myself physically go there instead of just accidentally already being there.”
“I’ve fortunately never had to go through a divorce,” Hoge says, adding with a laugh, “But I’ve had enough crappy relationships through the years to be able to still mine that territory when I need to.”
A sense of camaraderie with the small crew on the set, and between her own management team, the director and herself, also helped make the shoot an easy one for Sweeney.
“We all collectively came up with the whole idea,” she says of the clip’s concept. “But once the idea got past the initial stage, I deferred to them to actually run with it. My manager is extremely creative. I feel like manager is a verb, too. It’s not just a noun. He is very, very good in that department. We’ve worked together long enough that I’ll see a bad picture of myself and say, ‘That’s the worst picture.’ And he’ll say, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty bad.’ [Laughs]”
For his part, however, Hoge just had to turn up on the set in his singer-songwriter garb.
“It’s just like being married,” he jokes. “I used to be managed by the same management folks, so there was no question this was going to be a wonderful concept. Nothing is going to get past Sunny that’s not going to be cool. So it was easy thing for me to just show up and sit on the bed and do whatever needs doing. This is the easiest day that I’ve ever had the music business.”
In spite of some of the very close-up camera work in “My Bed,” Sweeney (mostly) enjoys the experience of making videos and especially likes seeing the finished product, even though she admits she’s her own worst critic.
“As a music fan, I love seeing the music video — especially if it tells a story and puts the nail in the coffin for the song,” Sweeney notes. “That’s why I think videos are so important, because you can make them tell the story just by something as small as facial expressions or the way that you look at the camera.”
“I think video directors are interesting,” says Hoge, whose own Small Town Dreams album will be released April 7th. “It’s not a hard concept. You hear the song and you go, ‘OK, we should do a video of us sitting on the bed and the chorus should be us singing together.’ I feel like I can come up with that. But what I love is that I would literally just do that and it would look terrible. But the director takes these concepts. . . like, I would never have thought, ‘You sit on this portion of the bed’ and then they turn the bed around and it makes everything cohesive. It’s fun for me as an outsider to come in and go, ‘Wow, OK. That takes this little concept you have it makes it this big cinematic thing.'”
However, just because this particular shoot was relatively painless, neither star has been bitten by the acting bug just yet.
“I love my job,” Sweeney says, rejecting the idea of acting for the camera on a larger, non-musical scale. “I sometimes really can’t believe it’s my job. So I think I’ll just stick with singing. I wouldn’t mind doing a walk-on role on one of my favorite murder shows or cop shows. . . or Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck. Just sayin’. I got a personalized picture from him the other day. It said, ‘Much obliged.’ My mom thought it said ‘much obligated.’ No mom, they’re very different things. [Laughs]”
“I don’t think it’s something I’d be very good at,” Hoge says of acting. “I shouldn’t say that. There’s a new Matthew McConaughey movie that I’m begging for a part in.”
“He’s from my hometown,” Sweeney says.
“Can you work on that for me?” Hoge asks, before Sweeney hastens to explain, “I don’t know him. I touched his butt once, accidentally.”
“Did you accidentally or ‘accidentally’?” Hoge says with a grin.
“He walked past me and I accidentally touched his butt,” Sweeney explains. “Me and about six other girls I was with.”
With that, the room erupts in laughter – again, before getting back to the lonely business of marital discord.