OFFSTAGE: The Making of Keith Urban’s “Without You” Video

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Keith Urban is surrounded. That’s what struck me about his new video for “Without You.” He is literally covered with images of a very full life, and that’s exactly how director Chris Hicky wanted it. “We both wanted the world he is singing about to be revolving around him,” Hicky told me Wednesday (March 16). “So we projected the imagery onto Keith and into the room so it could exist within the song. It was like we had movies playing, and Keith was our movie screen.” Urban and Hicky collaborated side by side on this, their 10th video together. They shot it in black and white, on a soundstage in Los Angeles created to look like a sparse bedroom, and Urban and his guitar and banjo are the only stars. The result is one that Hicky describes as sexy, poignant, artistic and tells a story — without being too straightforward. “We didn’t want to be too literal because whatever your work is, or your passion is, it’s the people in your life who matter. For Keith, it’s music. But if you’re a carpenter, your hammer is your life. We just gave the song subtle touches so that people could infuse their own lives into the music. That room just became our canvas,” he said. After shooting a scene, Urban would come back to the video monitor to watch what they’d just shot and even told Hicky, “Man, I think we’re really onto something.” Hicky says his role as a director is to find the emotional center of a piece of music. This time, he nails it 100 percent. “It’s not every day a song like this comes along,” he said. “One that’s so emotional and has that intensity. I treasure that day of production. And I just dig it.”