Ghosts, graves and tormented souls are found throughout the songs of country music. Through the years, music videos have served as a great compliment to depict some of the stories in these songs. In no particular order, here is our list of the Top 10 Most Haunting Country Videos. When you’re finished watching these videos, check out your favorite stars recalling their most memorable Halloween HERE. And if you’d like to have Brad, Carrie, Kellie, Dolly or Jason sitting on your front porch this weekend, check out our pumpkin carving templates and carve a star HERE!
“Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss
The 2005 CMA Song of the Year is a heartbreaking, traditional country ballad that Brad and Alison recorded for Brad’s Mud On The Tires record. The WW II-era video tells the story of a young soldier returning home from the Army to find his wife in bed with another man, starting the downward spiral of alcoholism that eventually kills him. “I’ll love her ‘til I die,” a note reads by his dead body. If the images of empty bottles and a man out of control weren’t enough, his death sends his cheating widow into her own guilt-fueled spiral as she too drinks herself to death. The video comes complete with two separate funerals. Adding to the haunting nature of the clip, their ghosts meet after she is laid to rest.
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash
There are several Johnny Cash videos that could have fit this list, but his breathtaking cover of rock band Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” is the most haunting as it features Johnny, just seven months before his death, reflecting on his life. Noted by many as possibly the single greatest music video of all time, the clip features archival footage of Johnny in his younger days against new images sitting alone on his throne, surrounded by decaying riches, pondering if the decisions he made were the right ones. His voice is weak, detailing exactly where he is at that moment in his life, and the raw emotions conveyed are stunning.
“Midnight In Montgomery” – Alan Jackson
Shot in black and white under a full moon amidst the headstones of an empty cemetery, Alan’s “Midnight in Montgomery” music video reaches beyond the grave to beckon the ghost of Hank Williams, Sr. Kneeling by Hank Sr.’s grave in the dark night, Alan smells “whiskey in the air” before seeing the legendary figure before him. The song’s acoustic arrangement and stirring harmonies only add to the haunting nature of the video that won the 1992 CMA Award for Music Video of the Year.
“Gravedigger” – Willie Nelson
Willie’s 2007 video “Gravedigger” essentially reels off one haunting image after another throughout the black and white clip. The music video details a funeral, where Willie plays multiple characters while the lyrics read through obituaries and ask for a shallow gave so he “can feel the rain.” Willie’s seen behind the wheel of a hearse as the driver, he’s shown as one of the attendees and he also plays a man of the cloth presiding over the burial. While one of the most striking images is Willie as the digger himself, standing three feet down in the grave with a shovel in his hands, make sure to check out the twist at the end for the most haunting image of all. The bluesy acoustic/electric arrangement sets the scene as the music gradually intensifies.
“Barton Hollow” – The Civil Wars
The first video from Nashville’s The Civil Wars, who are nominated for the 2011 CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, leaves a lot to the imagination, as they never reveal the whole story. “Barton Hollow” features quick camera edits and artistic angles, like the momentary glimpse of a swinging axe or the use of reflections in a river, to create the atmosphere. Shot in black and white, it seems as though Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars have committed a crime and are trying to escape, but that redemption is far off as the Southern stomp song ends with the line, “can’t no preacher man save my soul.”
“The Thunder Rolls” – Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks – The Thunder Rolls – MyVideo
Recently ranked as Time Magazine’s No. 7 Most Controversial Video of all time, Garth Brooks’ emotionally charged tale of domestic violence burns with intensity. The 1991 CMA Music Video of the Year opens with an abusive husband leaving his mistress at their motel room in the middle of a storm. Lightning flashes reveal details like his wife’s black eye as she waits at home for his return. However, set against thundering acoustic guitars and pounding drums, a fight ensues upon his arrival and the abused wife pulls a gun. The last shot shows Garth standing across the street from the house as a patrol car pulls up.
“Kerosene” – Miranda Lambert
Miranda’s first music video, “Kerosene,” follows her down a path of revenge – pouring out a can of gas along the way. Leaving the house where she lives with her boyfriend, Miranda struts with a don’t-mess-with-me attitude as she creates a trail of gas leading back to their home. Black and white shots of her and the band cranking out the hard-hitting tune are split with scenes of her boyfriend in bed with another woman. “Now I don’t hate the one who left, you can’t hate someone that’s dead,” she snarls just before reaching the cheating couple with a match book in her hand.
“Haunted Heart” – Sammy Kershaw
Sammy’s black and white 1993 music video features dark alleys, industrial elevator shafts and effecting shadows to depict a man haunted by his lover’s memory. Throughout the video, it’s not so much that Sammy is searching for her, but more that her apparition appears to be around every corner. With a traditional country thump and layered harmonies, moody visuals like cigar smoke and puddles transforming into buckets of dark water create an uneasy scene.
“Jolene” – Mindy Smith featuring Dolly Parton
We’re going with the Mindy Smith version here due to the moody official music video created that features Dolly throughout. Mindy’s voice is on one hand desperate and the other seductive as she interprets Dolly’s classic song of confronting the other woman. Shots of Dolly writing the lyrics to the song are interspersed with a storyline detailing Mindy searching through dark woods to find the cheating couple. Is this sequence meant as a flashback for Dolly and the inspiration for the song she’s writing? The viewer is left wondering as the haunting acoustic guitars and touches of reverb echo even after the video is over.
“Sittin’ Up With The Dead” – Ray Stevens
In his humorous 1990 video “Sittin’ Up With The Dead,” Ray tells the story about how where he’s from, because there aren’t mortuaries, the dead would be laid out in their homes for viewings. The thing is, mourners were expected to stay by their side all night because leaving them alone just wasn’t right. Well, when Ray’s Uncle Fred passes away at age 97, a comedy of errors leads to such unnatural events as his lifeless body sitting straight up and Ray falling into an open grave while running through a cemetery. The lyrics are fun, the visuals are campy and the chorus has a sing-along hook.
Country music is full of legends, ghosts and eerie events. This is our list of the Top 10 Most Haunting Country Videos, but there are many more out there. If your favorite isn’t on the list, tell us what it is!