When I really love a song, my anxiety over the video gets really bad; because my expectations are high.
So when I heard that Chris Janson’s video for “Drunk Girl” was about to be released, all I could think was, “Please, let the video be as powerful as the song.”
And it is, although I had to watch it a few times to understand that.
What I’d found so compelling about the song when it was released last December was that it wasn’t about the drunk girl, per se. It was about Janson’s step-by-step instructions about how to help her get home safe. We have to take better care of one another. We just have to do better.
I have daughters in college, so I was hopeful that his advice would get through to the guys they encountered at bars, fraternities and tailgates. But I also have a son in college, so for him, I was hopeful that he’d hear Janson’s words of wisdom and do the right thing. No matter how tempting it might be to do the wrong thing.
This video, though. It’s a far cry from the sing-it-show-it model of music videos that are literal to the point of redundancy. While the song starts and ends with the good guy taking the girl home, instead of taking advantage of her, the video throws two potential outcomes at you. In one, the girl who grew up watching her mother suffer physical abuse from a man is too drunk to fight off the guy on top of her. And in the other, the guy pours the girl into a cab, and as the car drives away, he sends her a text saying, “I had such a great time with you tonight. Let me know when you’re home safe.”
And it’s not like you don’t see the date rape scene coming. The video has a warning before it begins. “The following content addresses sensitive topics that might be upsetting to some audiences. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.”
So what Janson has done with this video is bring to life the difference between boys and men. He’s given that lyric — and the whole song — a new context.
Janson co-wrote the song with Scooter Carusoe and Tom Douglas, and the video was directed by Jeff Venable. And Janson’s only role is to be the singer/songwriter playing a grand piano in the middle of Nashville’s Lower Broadway.
Which seems to be such a fitting setting for this story because Janson is surrounded by bars like The Stage, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, Robert’s Western World, Nudie’s Honky Tonk and more. Places where countless drunk girls spill out onto the sidewalk, night after night.
And if just one man in one of those honky-tonks heeds Janson’s advice, and gets a drunk girl home safe, it will prove how powerful country music can be.