Watch the powerful new video for Jason Isbell's 'If We Were Vampires'


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: 'If We Were Vampires' video
Scene from the video for the song "If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. (Neighborhoods Apart Productions via YouTube)

The music world is filled with songs about infatuation, attraction, new love, young love, sparks and passion. And there are plenty of songs about unrequited love and love concluded. Those themes are clearly fertile ground for songwriters and powerful connective tissue with listeners.

But there are relatively few songs about longtime love. Hearts and flowers it's not, but there's a realism and maturity to the world that exists beyond first dances, first dates, first kisses and first times, found instead in the daily realities of bills and jobs and household tasks and the various multiple challenges life throws at us. Over time, people either stick together … or fall apart.

Songwriter Jason Isbell has been unafraid to explore that territory. "It's important to open up to your audience and explain who you are without falling into the old confessional singer-songwriter tropes," Isbell said in an interview with Acoustic Magazine. "I try to use records as documents, as records of a time in my life."

In "If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, the song's narrator examines a long-term relationship — likely inspired autobiographically by Isbell's own marriage to singer-songwriter Amanda Shires, who performs on this track and on the rest of the album, The Nashville Sound — with an honest, serious look at how even the hardiest of relationships can't last forever, simply because humans are mortal beings. "It's knowing that this can't go on forever," Isbell and Shires sing in the chorus, "Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone / Maybe we'll get forty years together / But one day I'll be gone / Or one day you'll be gone."

The video for the song was produced by Joshua Britt and Neilson Hubbard of Nashville-based Neighborhoods Apart Productions. It uses various types of animation to trace the song's narrative as it is superimposed on a number of visual metaphors for the passage of time and for mortality. At a key moment in the story arc, Isbell's signature anchor symbol makes a fleeting yet unmistakable appearance.

Honestly looking at the nature of commitment is not new ground for Isbell. "If We Were Vampires" seems the latest in a series of Isbell's songs that overtly examine mature relationships, joining predecessors "Cover Me Up" from 2013's Southeastern and "Flagship" from 2015's Something More Than Free. This trilogy (so far) of songs is certain to speak truth — if not provoke a few knowing tears — for anyone who has partnered up for the long haul.


Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - official site

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  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
    Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Danny Clinch)

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