If you thought the video for Tim McGraw’s latest single “Highway Don’t Care” would carry a simple and straightforward message of heartbreak, guess again. The video, which features Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, doubles as a public service announcement for those who get the message. Watch it below.
The video premiered Monday (May 6) during a Google+ Hangout session that took place live in front of a studio audience in Nashville. McGraw appeared in person alongside director Shane Drake (the man behind Little Big Town’s spooky “Tornado” video, among many others) to talk about the video and to answer questions from fans.
While the song talks about love lost, the video tells a sad story about the dangers of texting while driving and the heartache that can come as a result. Outside of the tragic story, the images are lovely to look at, from the scenes shot out the windshield of a moving car to the melancholy moments of Tim standing amidst the misty morning fog on a lonely Tennessee highway.
Shane admits that he and Tim had both recently “fallen in love with Terrence Malick films,” which helps explain the video’s thoughtful imagery.
McGraw said that he first learned about the song “Highway Don’t Care” through the Warren Brothers who are friends of his and writers on the song. The song is a collaboration between McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban, which were natural choices, according to McGraw.
“I never thought about anybody else being involved,” he said of Swift and Urban. “And the prize was they agreed to do it.”
McGraw said he heard a “cinematic quality” in the song and wanted to bring that vision to to life with a video. The clip uses the song’s tale of heartbreak as a starting point, but spins a new message that expands on the song’s lyrics.
“We didn’t set out to turn it into this public service announcement,” McGraw said. But because he has teenage daughters, including one who recently received her license, he said, he was happy to send a message. He choked back a few tears in a brief emotional moment, when explaining his choice to highlight the pitfalls of driving and texting.
Considering what is at stake, he said, “I didn’t mind being preachy.”