Songwriting legend Harlan Howard once described county music as "three chords and the truth," a genre that stands strong on a foundation of masterful storytelling. And what better to enhance a well-written song than a powerful music video?
Triumphant, despairing or sorrowful, country music videos have long provided a visual backdrop for some of music's most poignant lyrics. Below, The Boot counts down 10 of the saddest music videos released by some of country music's biggest superstars. Grab the tissues and press play!
So the story goes, Stapleton's record label wanted a music video for his song "Fire Away" -- but when he proposed this treatment, "they thought I was a crazy man for a minute." Tim Mattia directed the video, which stars actor Ben Foster as the significant other of a woman dealing with mental health issues and depression, played by Margarita Levieva. The ending is a tragic one -- but it makes the message of Stapleton's gorgeous song all the more powerful.
Coming to terms with heartbreak and washing away the anguish with a few tears can often be the most effective way of coping with grief. Urban testifies to this belief with the last video he made before marrying Nicole Kidman. Come to think of it, marrying her was probably a pretty good alternative to tears.
Sometimes big budgets and epic plots can't compare to the power of simplicity. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush prove that with this memorable performance. Armed with just a guitar and a piece of masterful songwriting, Sugarland succeed in conveying simple -- and painfully raw -- emotion.
Underwood displays some serious acting chops in this gut-wrenching video, portraying a young woman coming to terms with the loss of her serviceman fiance, who was killed in the line of duty. If not been for her blissful real-life marriage, it would be easy to mistake her convincing portrayal as one rooted in reality.
Taking a risk with the video for "What Hurts the Most," the trio produced a realistic, cinematic account of a young woman coping with the grief of losing her high-school sweetheart. The epic clip plays more like a mini movie than a three-minute music video.
One never to shy away from powerful lyrics, McBride tackles the taboo subject of child abuse in "Concrete Angel," an intense clip that avoids sugarcoating one of America's most insidious silent epidemics. The video obviously struck a chord with music listeners -- to date, it's been viewed more than 39 million times.
The second video in a trilogy of clips featuring Tritt as the fictional character Mac Singleton, "Tell Me I Was Dreaming" shows the disabled serviceman's pregnant wife, Annie, falling off a dock and hitting her head. The controversial clip ends with Anne passing away after giving birth to a healthy baby girl. In spite of the sad ending, Tritt's performance helped fuel the singer's big-screen acting career.
Currington drew on his own difficult childhood with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather for this music video, which somberly portrays the many times a child has been let down. Currington gives a painfully honest performance as an adult looking back at his own past, intercut with wrenching footage of a childhood filled with disappointment and pain.
Cash released this visual masterpiece in 2002, just months before his passing at the age of 71. Featuring his wife, the late June Carter Cash, the video's message of mortality and fragility serve as a poignant conclusion to the life of a conflicted, yet tremendously talented American icon.
Tragedy has never looked as poetic as in this clip, directed by and co-starring actor Rick Schroder. The World War II-era video depicts a young serviceman's return home to find his wife in the arms of another man. Alcohol and the anguish of infidelity ultimately claim the lives of two deeply troubled souls.