Record Label Spotlight: Lost Highway Records

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Over the last 20 years, HIP Video Promo has had the greatest pleasure of working with some of the most outstanding and iconic record companies within the music industry. Every Tuesday, we’ll go down memory lane and talk about some of our favorite record labels we’ve worked with. On this Record Label Spotlight, we’re continuing with the legendary Lost Highway Records.

Lost Highway Records is a Nashville-based label founded by Luke Lewis, the former chairman of Mercury Records. Since its start in 2001, Lost Highway has helped shape the country music world into what it is today. In its ten years of business, Lost Highway was home to legendary artists like Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, and Hank Williams. In 2012, Lost Highway officially closed and fell under its parent label Universal Music Group. Lost Highway and a few other labels now make up Universal Music Group Nashville, a country music subsidiary. In its short-lived time as an independent label, Lost Highway made a world of difference with their label and introduced us to some of the most iconic names in the industry. 

Back in 2003, HIP Video Promo worked with Lost Highway Records and Johnny Cash for the first time. It was one of the first big names we ever got to work with, and the first video we ever promoted for Johnny was his final video for “Hurt” in February of 2003. The legendary music man took the Nine Inch Nails song and gave it a completely different meaning. The music and the video have a haunting and emotional feel that stays with you after the final note. The video shows Mr. Cash in his home as old videos of his amazing life come into the frame: clips of him on stage and clips of him and his wife are a heavy string that pulls on your heart. It’s a video that every viewer leaves feeling emotional and missing the Man in Black. 

The second video of Johnny’s we got to promote was in December 2006 with “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. This video was shot in stark black and white and is jam-packed with celebrities, but it’s not the celebrity party you think it is. They have a stern look on their faces; references to those who have passed away are seen throughout the video. The video illustrates the fear of being forgotten no matter who you are. The last video we promoted for Johnny Cash was in November 2010 with his video for “Ain’t No Grave”. This video pays tribute to the legendary man and the impact he still has on so many people. The video shows imagery done by the Johnny Cash Project coming to life, including an image of Mr. Cash walking with his iconic acoustic guitar. American music wouldn’t be the same with Johnny Cash, and we’re honored to have been able to work with him.

Another Lost Highway artist we had the pleasure of promoting is Elvis Costello. Elvis Costello is one of those artists who can pull off any genre and any sound. His album The Delivery Man is the perfect example of that, with songs ranging from R&B to country to punk. In October 2004, HIP Video Promo promoted his video for “Monkey To Man”. This video looks like something straight out of the ‘50s with the titles and the red hotel walls. Cue cards cut into the clips to help explain what’s going on in the scene. Throughout the clip, we see people dressed in gorilla suits as they dance around with a group of girls in bikinis. All the while, Elvis remains in his own little world playing on his guitar. This video is a wild ride from start to finish.

We also worked with Tift Merrit back in 2004. At the time, Tift was one of Lost Highway’s most exciting emerging artists with her raw and authentic sound. Her debut album Bramble Rose made an impact not just on Nashville but with all music listeners. Her album was heart-shattering and raw, fully honest. In October of 2004, we promoted her video for “Good Hearted Man”. The video clip shows Merrit in an old mansion with chipping walls and chandeliers on the floor. Tift sits against one of the walls wearing blue jeans and completely barefoot as she strums on her guitar. She goes from strumming the guitar to putting her all into a sleek black piano as she gazes outside of the huge windows. The calming feeling of the video is the perfect visual for this sweet song.

Next up on our list of Lost Highway artists is Ryan Bingham. The story of Ryan is as real and challenging as it gets. Growing up, he and his family moved from town to town, looking for any kind of job wherever they could find it. Once he started playing guitar, his whole world changed. He started getting noticed in small roadhouses, and he was slowly making a name for himself. He tells the best stories through his music, and the way he writes has beautiful poetic flare. In December 2007, HIP promoted his video for “Southside of Heaven”. The video for the lead single off of Mescalito looks like something straight out of an old Western film. We see Ryan dressed in jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat as he walks along the landscape. Around him is nothing but a barren desert and an occasional bus or train. The flickering camera gives off the feeling of going back in time. 

Another Lost Highway artist we’ve worked with is Morrissey back in February of 2009. This is one man who doesn’t need an introduction. If you’re a music fan, you’ve most likely seen his influence more than you realized. That’s just the impact Morrissey has had on the music industry. After a seven-year hiatus, Morrissey made a comeback in 2009 with the album You Are The Quarry. In February of that year, HIP promoted his video for “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”. This video shows that sometimes, simplicity is the way to go. It takes place on a white sound stage with a band backing Morrissey. It’s the most comfortable and relaxed-looking music video set; just ask the pups that are running through it. However, the entertaining aspect sure isn’t lacking. 

The next Lost Highway artist we’ve promoted is Black Joe Lewis and The Honey Bears back in 2009. Black Joe Lewis and The Honey Bears have been mixing genres and crossing over sounds since the very first time they’ve entered the music scene. Their second studio album, Scandalous, has a little bit of everything for all the music listeners out there, from blues and soul to punk. In 2009, we promoted their video for “Livin’ In The Jungle”. The video perfectly illustrates the carefree tone of the song. The video takes place over five days and five nights in fabulous Las Vegas. The video is shot with vintage overlays and filmed in all black and white. Throughout the video, we see the band performing at a casino dressed in some very classy suits. It’s everything you think of when you think of Las Vegas: high paced, energetic, and absolutely glamorous. 

Finally, we have had the pleasure of working with Hayes Carll. Hayes is a country music artist from Texas who loves to stir the pot with his music. His songs are well thought out, intelligent, and something you just can’t get enough of. In June of 2011, HIP promoted his video for “Another Like You” another humorous track from this Texas native. In this song, Hayes is joined by Cary Ann Hearst, a fellow southern rock artist, and their voices together are something out of country music heaven. The topic of this song and video is the never-ending bickering between Democrats and Republicans. It shows a man and woman from either party showing each other what their world is like as a Republican or Democrat. It’s not long before they give up and end up making out in an elevator. It’s all fun and games and a reminder not to take things so seriously.

In its only ten years of functioning as an independent label, Lost Highway has left an impact on the music industry, and it’s safe to say we’re all the better for it. Without them, who knows where some of these legendary artists would be.  

Written by HIP Intern Rebecca Karaman.