1960. My parents had forced me to go to Sunday School. I don’t remember resisting but it wasn’t like I had any choice. I just went to Sunday School. Every Sunday morning at St. Stephen’s Church, Bush Hill Park. The Church was set back from Green Lanes which sounds very rural but was (and is) a busy road connecting Enfield with Wood Green. My parents didn’t go to church but obviously thought it was good for me to go. On the other hand, they never baptised me which sometimes made me feel uncontaminated and on other times made me feel neglected. My lack of induction or indoctrination into the church prevented me from becoming a godparent to my niece and nephew which irked me. Anyway, one Sunday I got into the hall next to the church along with all the other children when I suddenly realised that I didn’t have the three penny piece that I needed for the collection. I bolted out of the hall and rushed back to Green Lanes where my parents were still in their car. This story doesn’t really make sense. Why were my parents still in their car? Why hadn’t they gone home? I’m pretty sure that they didn’t go into the church themselves. Anyway, I can still remember my tears as I clambered back into the Austin Cambridge explaining that I didn’t have the money for the collection. At the time it never occurred to me to apportion blame. It wasn’t my money; my parents donated the 3d and so they had forgotten to give the money to me. I don’t blame them – they just forgot. I didn’t go to Sunday School that day – I was too upset. However, the next week, I did go and a kindly churchy woman told me that she had seen me running off the previous week. She asked me if I had come back. I lied. I said that I had come back. I felt ashamed of my duplicity and that was the last time I went to Sunday school. My soul has been damned to spend an eternity in hell, never finding salvation because I had forgotten to take a “joey” with me on that Sunday morning in 1960.
I wonder what might have happened if this scenario had played out in 2019? Possibly, the kindly churchy lady would have had a video of a Sunday school without me on her phone and she would have proved that I had lied to her. How much of the lives of six year olds are captured on video these days? Is this a good thing?
To write the songs for “Home Video” Lucy Dacus dug out the “extensive” VHS footage that her parents had made of her childhood. In addition, she revisited the diaries that she kept as a child. Out of the 13 volumes that she found, she typed up the first four, which resulted in a 100 000 word piece. Her conclusion was “Oh my gosh, I was an annoying kid”. Every song on “Home Video” is based on a memory of her childhood.
When she was 13, Lucy Dacus went to a Bible camp in her home state of Virginia. One evening, she performed “Chasing Cars”, the Snow Patrol song accompanied by five male friends on acoustic guitars. This good memory has to be set against having to endure sermons that told her how evil she was. She recounts this experience in a great song on “Home Video” called “VBS” which stands for Vacation Bible School. The song tells the story of a boyfriend who was more interested in snorting nutmeg and listening to Slayer than reaching salvation through studying the Bible. “I told him that if we dated, he would have to stop smoking weed. I was a straight-laced, hardass, morally superior 13-year-old,” she says now.
For several years, Lucy Dacus has sung a song called “Thumbs” when performing live. (I don’t remember this song when Richard and I saw her at The Hope And Ruin in 2018 but it may have been after I left with a sore back). It became such a fan favourite that a Twitter account called “Has Lucy Released Thumbs Yet?” was set up. It’s a stripped back song with an eerie keyboard accompaniment and it describes her fantasy of killing the violent father of a friend of hers. She says that she understands that these feelings are mixed with her own complex feelings about her birth father (she was adopted at an early age).
“Brando” is much more upbeat and describes another failed relationship from her teenage years when trips to the cinema to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” and Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers’ films were accompanied by compliments about her intellect when all she really wanted was to be called pretty.
“Home Video” is Lucy Dacus’ third album. Her previous album, “Historians” was released in 2018 after which she joined up with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker to form a short-lived “supergroup” called Boygenius; they released one six song E.P. Forming a close relationship with these two musicians helped her to further understand her own craft and resist categorisation as a “sad” singer. “We all have been spoken about in similar ways, and to rail against that together felt really good. Like, ‘Let’s not just be sad — let’s be funny, let’s be loud, let’s be angry.’ It’s a myriad of emotions.”
The video for “Hot & Heavy” nicely illustrates how the album was written. She is shown visiting her home town, recalling another failed relationship, eating popcorn in a cinema, watching films of her childhood. She has said that the writing is an attempt to “centre” herself by recalling events from her childhood, hoping that this would help her understand who she really is. Add some music to your day.