Album Breakdown: Lucy Dacus’ Home Video

By: Samantha Eddy
Lucy Dacus performing in 2018. Photo Courtesy of Nigel Nudds Photography via Flickr.

Twenty-six-year-old indie rock singer-songwriter, Lucy Dacus, is back with a heavy, yet beautiful album: Home VideoHome Video focuses on people that influenced (whether positive or negative) Dacus’ life and the events and emotional battles that shaped who she is today and developed the perspective she has on life. Read the track descriptions below to learn more. 

1. ‘Hot & Heavy’

Acknowledging the title track, Pitchfork asked Dacus, “Why did you choose this song to begin the record, and what tone do you hope it sets?” To this, the musician responded, “Something I learned in film school before I dropped out is that the title of a movie should let you know what the whole movie is going to be about. Likewise, a record’s first song should be like a palette introduction that sets the tone. The tones here are nervousness, contemplation, nostalgia, and warmth. I wanted it to feel really inviting and blushing.” This title song brings out part of who Lucy Dacus is today. While she doesn’t feel completely comfortable with the idea of talking about herself in a song, she found that’s where the song was intended to go. Having initially began the writing process about an introverted-turned-extroverted friend, Dacus found that the writing process allowed her to realize she was writing about herself from two perspectives. “I’ve never felt totally comfortable talking about myself in a song because I compulsively don’t want to be selfish. But everyone has to be some degree of selfish to survive,” explains Dacus, “Selfish art is often the most revealing.”

2. ‘Christine’

With the title “Christine” hinting to a specific person, ‘Christine’ actually tells a more specific story than some of the other songs in the album. There’s no better way to understand Dacus’ thought behind this song than to understand that it came from a place where motivation didn’t play a role. “I don’t write from a place of motivation. It happens more unexpectedly, as if something in my brain has finally convinced my body to let it come out. But what has motivated me to share the songs is that they might be meaningful beyond me, and I no longer need to hold on to them so hard. I’ve been thinking about hymns a lot and how you often don’t know what wrote them, but they’ve been sung repeatedly for hundreds of years. I’m not saying that I want or expect my songs to be like that, but I like the idea of songs not needing a writer,” details Dacus on how she developed the album. She mentions how her she releases the meaning she no longer needs to keep into songs that other can derive meaning from to hold on to, and I think that is quite beautiful. 

3. ‘First Time’

‘First Time’ is all about Dacus’ as an adolescent and what those years were like for her. She talks about how she was fairly obedient, loved God, and about how quirky and extroverted she could be. She explains how she became stressed and began sleeping a lot as she grew up as well. “One time, I just shut down completely and took a nap on the sidewalk, in the sun. I had enough drama that I learned things and had enough nice things – and enough hurtful things – that I’ve become someone I mostly understand. I don’t think I could have said that a couple years ago,” says Dacus as she reflects on her youth. She also sings about how all we can do is learn from our mistakes and look forward to what’s now and what’s to come. “I can’t undo what I’ve done, and I wouldn’t want to,” Dacus sings in ‘First Time’. 

Lucy Dacus performing in 2018. Photo Courtesy of Nigel Nudds Photography via Flickr.

4. ‘VBS’

Considering the title is “VBS,” which stands for Vacation Bible School, Pitchfork proposes this question to the musician: “How often did you go to church growing up?” She confirms that she attended church services four out of seven days of the week. Dacus spent a lot of time going to church with multiple friends, seeking to discover what was considered “the right thing.” Dacus uses this song as an opportunity to talk about her spirituality and how it changed over time, explaining how she was raised as a Christian, then slowly stopped condemning herself to a particular religion, to no longer ascribing herself to any religion at all. 

5. ‘Cartwheel’

“’Cartwheel’ is one of the most hodge-podge songs on the record. I wrote it on a walk around Nashville when we were recording the 2019 EP. Over time, I realized it was about my friend from middle school,” Dacus explains. The moral of the story told in ‘Cartwheel’ is about how all of Dacus’ friends wanted to grow up so fast, yet she was stuck on living in the moment and enjoying the age she was at the time. She explains how her group of friends began liking boys and started sneaking them into their sleepovers. Dacus wasn’t a fan of this as she was uninterested and thought it made their time together less fun. 

6. ‘Thumbs’

Dacus claims that ‘Thumbs’ is the song she is most proud of writing from this album. Pitchfork asked, “When you began performing this song live, you asked audiences not to record it. Why?” To this, Dacus responded, “I didn’t want people to hear it for the first time through a phone speaker. I played it live for so long, because I needed to get used to it with zero expectations in front of me” She wrote the song about one of her beloved friends and claims that “it’s a token of our friendship.” 

7. ‘Going Going Gone’

Dacus best explains the purpose of this song with, “That one [referring to ‘Going Going Gone’] was a little more theoretical. I did have someone in mind when I was writing it, but I wanted to write about the cycle of boy-girl, man-woman, father-daughter, and how protective fathers may be because they know firsthand what men are capable of. The cycle of innocence to corruption to fear.” ‘Going Going Gone’ is Dacus’ perspective on the evolution of a man over time. 

Lucy Dacus performing at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto in 2018. Photo Courtesy of Stephen McGill via Flickr.

8. ‘Partner in Crime’

‘Partner in Crime’ encapsulates Dacus’ wanting to be taken seriously and how she would lie about her age. At one point during a show she went to, Dacus ended up dating someone who was older than her before realizing that it’s weird for a man that age to be dating a high schooler. This is also the only song Dacus used Auto-Tune for. Due to a voice injury, her singing times were cut short and she was unable to hit some of the notes for this track, so Auto-Tune fixed that. The musician stated “I hadn’t done anything like that before, and it ended up influencing the arrangement and fitting with the meaning about disguising yourself to be more attractive.”

9. ‘Brando’

This track is about a friend Dacus had in high school who taught her about a lot of the things she didn’t really know but come to love. “When we met, he recognized in me a lack of culture because I grew up in a rural, suburban area and I didn’t really come into contact with many movies or music,” Dacus explains.

10. ‘Please Stay’

‘Please Stay’ is most definitely the heaviest song on the album. For the story for this track, Dacus dives deep into what it’s like to be supportive and uplifting to friends who are contemplating suicide, and how important it is to do so. She says, “Do anything with your life, ruin it, but don’t end it, just stay another day…”

11. ‘Triple Dog Dare’

‘Triple Dog Dare’ encapsulates a friendship Dacus had that was heading in a direction towards love and romance. This friend of hers had a heavily Catholic and psychic mother, so their friendship faltered as they were kept from seeing each other. Dacus ends the song with a fictionalized happy ending where she and that friend steal a boat and run off together. She chose to focus on an escapism type ending for this album because she likes the idea of a big finally, “I like that the songs ends on them beginning the next part of life, that they made a chose and exited childhood.”

Lucy Dacus performing at La Mecanique Ondulatoire in Paris in 2016. Photo Courtesy of Stars Are Underground via Flickr.

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