Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s "We Almost Lost Detroit" is already an unofficial city anthem heard in bars all over town. Now, the band takes the song to the city's streets in a new music video released Tuesday.
"We Almost Lost Detroit" comes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s full-length debut, It's a Corporate World, released last year. A cover of a song by the late Gil Scott-Heron, the Detroit duo's version brings up the energy with an infectious hook.
While the Jr. Jr.s, Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein, seem to be on their way up in the music world, signing with Warner Bros. and recently playing on "Conan," the two are all about their hometown. In a blog post introducing the new video, the Zott and Epstein talk about the personal impact Gil Scott-Heron's song has had on them and what it means for Detroit:
The spirit of the song that always rang out to us was that it didn't seem to be about simply pointing out what had gone wrong. The message seemingly was one of progress. About setting things right. Coming together as people and moving forward. As Gil would say many years later in concert, the song is about realizing that "somebody's always got to be on the job... because there's always a job out there to do".
So we wanted this video to be about people DOING things in and around the city of Detroit. People who are on the job. People who have moved past "what happened?" and are spending more time saying "lets MAKE things happen". These are the people who we feel represent the city of Detroit.
The video for "We Almost Lost Detroit" visits Detroiters at their day jobs -- everyone from a pickler to a puppeteer -- as they sing along.
Andrew Smart, who directed the video and went to high school with Epstein, said the crew had a planned list of spots to visit, but they also found partipants as they went along.
"It was really impressive to me -- you put a camera in front of people's faces and they were just so sincere and honest," Smart said. "They were proud of the city and happy to be asked ... they brought so much life to [the video]."
Singing Detroiters are spliced in with scenes of the band barreling down familiar streets in a giant green van, until Zott and Epstein wind up at their destination, the newly-reopened Green Dot Stables in Corktown, where they stage a flashy concert in the parking lot.
In a marathon three-and-a-half days, the crew shot at 26 locations.
"It was a real opportunity to celebrate the city," Smart said. "Detroit is not lost. There are a lot of people who are out there working hard. They're creative people, and they believe in the city, and thats inspiring."
The We Almost Lost Detroit 12" EP will be released on Record Store Day, April 21, according to Stereogum.