Shmitt's new visual for "Mommy and Daddy" carries the emotional weight of the experience that inspired it.
If you’re looking for a moment of catharsis, a personal meditation on the ever-evolving relationship between child and parent, look no further. Today, Nashville singer-songwriter Stuffy Shmitt shares with our readers the video for his evocative new single, “Mommy and Daddy.”
The latest example of Shmitt’s emotionally raw and personal songwriting approach, these lyrics capture a moment from his own life years ago when he returned home from a long period of not being able to visit his folks.
“I lived in New York City and they lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So I didn't see them gradually change,” Shmitt said recently during a phone chat. The moment of realization stuck with him for decades until he finally captured it in the lyrics to “Mommy and Daddy,” which, again, hit you as bluntly as the experience hit the songwriter.
Watch the video (costarring fellow musicians Phil Kaufman and Susie Monick) now and read on below for our conversation with Shmitt about the song, what it’s meant for him after writing it, and how the video was made.
C&I: One of the ways you describe the experience of aging in the song stuck out to me: “Everything and everyone got strange.” Such a good way to put it because even if you anticipate it, it’s always going to be strange.
Stuffy Shmitt: Well, the whole concept of living and getting old, you know, being born and then getting older, then dying, is just stupid. [Laughs.]
C&I: How many years ago was it that you went home and had this sort of moment with your parents?
Shmitt: Oh boy. Well, my mom died early. She died in 1990. So did my brother in the same six months — it was a fun year. So I guess it was five years before that, maybe ’85 or something. That long ago!
C&I: Did the lyrics come from a settled wisdom about the whole situation, or did it lift a long-held weight off of you to write the song?
Shmitt: It didn't lift the weight off. … Nobody ever asked me that question before, because usually you can write songs to just do that, to exorcize whatever demons you're dealing with. But it didn't. It was more like I just took a photograph of what was happening, and it was just that. It just was what it was. I mean, I wasn't happy about it and I was freaked out by it, but I don't think writing a tune helps.
C&I: Well, I think the video is certainly cathartic in a certain way. Your friends and fellow musicians Phil Kaufman and Susie Monick are starring in it, and there is beautiful imagery throughout.
Shmitt: On the day when the shoot was already going, the guy that was supposed to do the gig [playing the father] called and said, “I can't make it.” So I called Phil and I said, “Hey Phil, you want to be in the movie?” “Yeah, I'll be right over.”
C&I: Neighbors, huh?
Shmitt: Literally six houses away.
C&I: There’s a wonderful and organic buildup of emotion in the video, culminating with the shots on the street and of life going on for the couple.
Shmitt: Yeah. These guys that do the videography (Duende Vision) are so unbelievably talented. They're also great musicians and singers and stuff; they're from Georgia — not our Georgia, the Georgia next to Russia. That Georgia, you know? … They're very bright, very educated, very creative. And I trust them with anything. They're going to be my people from now on for sure.
For more on Stuffy Shmitt and his forthcoming album (out Dec. 4) Stuff Happens, visit the artist’s official website.
(Credits: Photography by Stacie Huckeba. Videography by Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel/Duende Vision.)