What a video of Eminem, without Eminem? When the story is too painful to be displayed by his creator, he might choose to be a simple spectator. ‘Headlights’ is the story of his contradictory feelings towards his mother: revolt, hate and in the end, reconciliation. ‘Headlights’ can be considered Eminem’s apology to his dead mother, admitting that his musical revolt in ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ was unjustified. His confession on rap rhythm is accompanied by the soft indie pop voice of Nate Ruess into an impressive song about love and forgiveness.
As its title indicate, ‘Headlights’ is a retrospective perspective on the mother – son relationship, never that easy in the case of Marshall Mathers, alias Eminem and Debbie Mathers, a common American single mother, seeking to create communication bridges to his famous child. Debbie Mathers is displayed as a lonely old woman living in a modest home, cooking her breakfast, smoking, watching TV where his son is promoted and writing to him. Sending a letter isn’t enough for a mother who wants to stop fighting with her distant son, she constantly tries to arrive to his home, but she is stopped by policemen.
During their last meeting, Eminem embraced her in front of his imposing house and left probably to a concert. But he couldn’t forget that sadness he felt in that hug, associated later with the death of his mother. The song includes real references about Eminem’s difficult relationship with both his mother and his brother, focusing on the image of mother.
Despite the terrible fights and a long trial, Eminem recognizes in one of his lyrics, that she did all her best to raise as single-parent two children. The image of the destroyed Christmas Eve is the metaphor of a disconnected family, the broken Christmas balls couldn’t ever be restored, only the sincere regrets could correct something, as he argued in the end of the song: ‘So Mom, please accept this as a tribute I wrote on this jet’.
‘Headlights’ was released on February 2014, being included in Eminem’s eighth album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’, the artist being on the producers along with Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker.
The video was released on May 11, 2014, Mother’s Day, Eminem’s intentions being clear: he wanted to pay homage to the memory of Debbie Mathers. The scenes were shot in Detroit, his hometown, the place where everything started: his ascension and his desire to forget his past.
‘Headlights’ was directed by Spike Lee, popular for his strong debate against racial discourse in USA. Spike Lee rarely directs videos, since he is focused on creating movies, such as ‘Oldboy’ or ‘Pariah’. For Eminem, he made an exception, since his story couldn’t be refused by a man who was subject of discrimination.