Tim McGraw is revealing the surprising inspiration behind the video for his latest single, "Neon Church." The song, which is the debut single from an upcoming new album, begins with "I need Jesus or I need whiskey," so McGraw and video director Shane Drake worked hard to capture both desires in the cinematic clip.
“Shane and I talked a lot about the depth and meaning of ‘Neon Church,'" McGraw said in a statement. "The song has a lot of grit, and there’s a darkness to it. So we wanted the video to carry some of that darkness and moodiness.
“But you also have the neon," he continued. "The light. Neon light is literally the calling card to a bar. You also have the human light that calls people to be together. We’re all a little broken, but that doesn’t mean we don’t each carry some light.”
The impressive video shows the main characters heading to a bar to forget their troubles for a while – a fitting storyline for lyrics like, "What I need / Is a neon church with a jukebox choir / Full of honky tonk angels with their wings on fire / Straight pourin' out that Johnnie Walker healin' / I got a feelin' / I need a neon church."
Although the song might be a surprising choice for McGraw, who has been sober since 2008, the 51-year-old knew the first time he heard "Neon Church" that he wanted it for himself.
"To me, it had a little bit of dirt on it," McGraw said on the Ty, Kelly and Chuck Show. "I think when you hear an opening line like 'I need Jesus or I need whiskey,' that's one of the great opening lines of all times of a country song, and I fell in love with that. And then every lyric that comes after that is so well-placed. Nothing's out of place with that lyric."
"We wanted to go in and cut a record that had a little bit of a Journey/Prince vibe that's leading more modern at the same time," he continued. "So we wanted these really big Prince-sounding guitars on it."
"Neon Church" also earned rave reviews from McGraw's wife, fellow singer Faith Hill.
"She’s got a lot of favorites on the record we are working on, but this is one that she really gravitated to," McGraw told Taste of Country. "She didn’t have any complaints with this being the first single. She loves the guitars on it and loves the lyric."
Download "Neon Church" on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Kevin Winter