For the last few weeks, Ray Scott has been premiering a series of performance videos on Rolling Stone Country that highlight his traditional country influences. All of them, from his interpretation of Don Williams’ “Good Ole Boys Like Me” to Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever,” have set the stage for his own new single, “Ain’t Always Thirsty.” A slice of classic country, the song is a dyed-in-the-wool drinkin’ tune — but one where booze is used as medication, not recreation. To match the despair of the lyrics, Scott and director Blake Judd knew they needed an unconventional video. (Watch the premiere above.)
“The song is very beautiful yet dark and painful, with no glimmer of hope. It’s classic country in every way,” says Judd, who directed Kristian Bush’s “Trailer Hitch” and Blackberry Smoke’s “Too High.” “Most videos, no matter the theme, seem to have a light at the end. Ray has no light here. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing, because it’s true to life.”
In fact, the only light in the “Ain’t Always Thirsty” video comes from the dime-store lamps in a cheap motel room in East Nashville. “It was dank and dark, and you hit a low just being there. It’s one of those places that at some point or another definitely has had a chalk line,” says Scott of the seedy location, showing off his signature dry humor. Over his last few videos — including the clip for previous single “Drinkin’ Beer,” in which he donned a mini-skirt — the North Carolina singer-songwriter has let his sense of humor run free. He worked hard to keep it in check here.
“Over the years, my videos have been tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted. This one took a little bit of acting. I had to draw on the feelings that made me write the song in the first place. I even had me a few drinks during the process, just to get in that mindset,” Scott says. “It was my first ever approach to actually have to appear down on my luck and sad.”
In the end, the finished product dovetailed nicely with the song, which was written by Scott with Mark Stephen Jones and appears on Scott’s eponymous new album. The baritone vocalist — one of the few remaining male country artists to clutch tightly to the cowboy hat and its masculine image — is certain “Ain’t Always Thirsty” will quench country fans’ desire for that old-school sound.
“Country music used to sound like this in a lot of places. It’s slow song, a sad song and it’s based on reality. It’s not up-tempo and positive, and not at all formulaic like a lot of what you hear on mainstream radio,” he says. “It’s exciting to me that it has an opportunity to be heard by people who will instantly recognize it as something that has been missing.”