Imagine Dragons released their music video “Roots” on September 29th, 2015. It begins with a shot of the band bowing before an immense crowd. Images of lead singer Dan Reynolds as a baby and child are placed before the viewer’s eyes. We watch footage of his younger self saying, “I’m a superhero. I may not look like one yet but that’s because I haven’t figured out my costume.” The word “roots” is placed directly on the screen. Abruptly the music begins.
Throughout the video there are glimpses of Reynolds’ daily life as a music star. From our perspective, he looks exhausted and burnt out. His daily routine has become monotonous, overwhelming, crippling, and draining. A shot emerges of Daniel singing under water. We then see shots of him walking through vast green lands, empty and expansive. It becomes evident that Daniel is not at peace. He is searching for his roots. Eventually the question beckons, what are his roots? How has he lost them? As he quests to regain them, what will it take?
There are three components to the video; the journey of success, the journey of home, and the journey of self. His pursuit of music is seen as we watch him leave and enter various stages, travel in tour vans, and sit backstage. The journey of home is seen through images of his childhood, references to his mother and father, family, neighborhood, and friends. The journey of self is seen through images of him laying in fields of grass, singing under water, and roaming aimlessly in sweeping fields.
From under water Dan sings, “Hell will always come before you grow. Trouble find me.” Quite poetic and true, his lyrics point out that life is a dichotomy of opposition. It’s often bittersweet that at the height of one pursuit, other goals can be compromised and lost. We watch Dan find and grapple with his musical success yet rummage through his surroundings and nostalgia to re-grasp his inner roots again. In the midst of this battle to maintain his musical pursuits, he also yearns to maintain his sense of community and home and thereby his sense of self.
“Roots” is a beautiful video. It asks, what do we give up to find the success we desire and how do we try not to give up what’s important? No matter the length one travels there seem to be certain fundamental truths that are the framework of our existence. These truths include both personal and professional pursuits. They may vary in importance or priority but nonetheless at the root of humanity is a need for family, love, community, friendship, generosity, and purpose. We may all find comfort in various forms of these roots, but nonetheless they are integral to our make up.