“Home Video” and Lucy Dacus: an Album Analysis


Lauren Field, In-Depth Writer


Trigger warning for suicide, discussed in the track towards the end titled, “Please Stay”


In her third album released in June of 2021, Virginia indie rocker Lucy Dacus kicks off the album by wondering “How did I believe I had a hold on you?” Dacus’s album “Home Video” is an excellent, remarkably mature reflection of her teenage and adult years. Every song is written entirely by Dacus, making the album incredibly cohesive and honest. Out of the eleven tracks, “Hot & Heavy”, “Christine”, “Brando”, “Please Stay”, and “Triple Dog Dare” shine the brightest and embody the spirit of the album the best.

“Hot & Heavy ” is the opening track, a choice that Dacus justifies with her film school knowledge. She says that “Hot & Heavy” is a “palette introduction” that “sets the tone” of the album – and listeners have to agree that Dacus’s songwriting process is very fluid. She began the song singing about an old friend that she reconnected with (“You used to be so sweet, now you’re a firecracker in a crowded street” and “Led me to the floor even though I’m not a dancer, Ask me all the questions that your parents wouldn’t answer”), but ended the song singing about a new version of herself from an outside perspective (“Now you’re the biggest brightest flame, You are a fire that can’t be tamed”). This self-reflection, honesty, and incredible lyricism showcases all the joys of listening to “Home Video”.

“Christine” – a beautiful serenade to a dear friend – is next on the tracklist. At only 2 minutes and 33 seconds, it is the shortest song on the 11 track album, but it certainly feels substantial. She details a moment of intimacy between her and her friend, who is assumed to be named Christine, with “You’re falling asleep on my shoulder in the back of your boyfriend’s car. We’re coming home from a sermon saying how bent and evil we are”. These lines both criticize Christine’s boyfriend, as it implies that he took them to the critical sermon, and also express triumph at Dacus’s closeness with her friend over her boyfriend. After all, Christine is falling asleep on Lucy’s shoulder and not her boyfriend’s. Dacus shows her concern for her friend’s happiness with the beautiful, heartfelt lyric “Other nights, you admit he’s not what you had in mind. All in all, nobody’s perfect. There may be better, but you don’t feel worth it. That’s where we disagree.” Finally, to finish the song and emphasize her friend’s love for her, she sings “But if you get married, I’d object. Throw my shoe at the altar and lose your respect. I’d rather lose my dignity, than lose you to somebody who won’t make you happy.” Dacus’s incredible vocals and sweet songwriting shine on “Christine”, which make it an absolute treat to listen to.

Over the jaunty beat of track nine’s “Brando”, Dacus finally realizes that a high school friend may not have been interested in her, even though he liked pushing her into what he enjoyed. With the opening to the song “You told me to skip school to go with you to the movies. You knew you were uncool, but you thought you could fool me.” Dacus is already establishing that she sees through her friend’s act, which is a theme that is pushed to the forefront of the song. She expresses bitterness over his conceited “compliments” with, “You called me “cerebral”. I didn’t know what you meant. But now I do, would it have killed you to call me pretty instead?” With “And I’m laughing ’cause you think you’re Brando, but you’ll never come close”, Dacus is beginning to strike deep. Her friend is described as a 20th-century film buff who quotes “Casablanca” and watches “It’s a Wonderful Life”, so being told that he is in reality, far from the famous actor Marlon Brando, would most likely cut him to pieces. Dacus is humorous with lines like, “You admit you think we’re fated, I’ll be lucky if I’m your third wife”, and expresses an urge to get out of his company immediately with the line “If the snow wasn’t coming down so hard I would open the door and walk home, it’s only a couple miles”. Dacus has been wrapped up in her friend’s interests and identity for so long that she feels he does not know her as an independent person. “All I need for you to admit, is that you never knew me like you thought you did”. She does not need to be told she is right in their arguments, only for him to admit that he is really not that cool and that they have no true connection.

“Home Video” cuts the deepest on the devastating track “Please Stay”. Dacus is attempting to convince her friend to continue living with every fiber of her being. The first two verses detail the parts of her friend’s life that she dreads seeing, as it would’ve meant that Lucy failed (Your clothes in the dryer, your hair on the shower wall. Your toothbrush is too much, your shoes empty in the hall”). The line “The books on your shelf that you never read” makes the song personal to the listener. After all, who hasn’t optimistically bought a book just to leave it to collect dust? The lyric, “You tell me you love me, like it’ll be the last time. Like you’re playing out, the end of a storyline. I say I love you too, because it’s true. What else am I supposed to do?” shows Dacus’s dread and hopelessness as she feels the situation is spiraling further out of her control. Now, Lucy is convincing her friend to stay by naming all the things she can choose to live for. “Quit your job, cut your hair. Get a dog. Change your name, change your mind. Change your ways, give them time. Go back to school, go back to sleep. Tell the secret you can’t keep. Begin, be done. Break a vow, make a new one.” Miraculously, the most desolating lyrics are yet to come. Her final plea is more of a deal – “Call me if you need a friend, or never talk to me again. But please stay.” Lucy has resigned herself to life without her friend, but she cannot be in a world without her. “Please Stay” marks the album’s most mature, serious, and devastating.

Track eleven and album closer – “Triple Dog Dare”. At 7 minutes and 44 seconds, “Triple Dog Dare” is not so much a song, but a fleshed-out story. The song begins abruptly with, “I’m not tired yet. We still got a lot to figure out. Like, what was the end of the movie about, anyways?” – even at almost eight minutes, there is no time wasted in this song. Dacus goes on to admire her friend’s demeanor in a five and dime shop with “And the kid at the counter is gawking at your grace.I can tell what he’s thinking by the look on his face. It’s not his fault, I’m sure I look the same.” Now, listeners get the sense that Dacus’s friend may be more than a friend. With “Your mama read my palm. She wouldn’t tell me what it was she saw. But after that, you weren’t allowed to spend the night”, the friends/young lovers are separated by their parents, which captures the adolescence of the time in the song’s setting. Dacus shows her devotion with “You know I’ll be seeking if you run and hide.” The teens begin to plan their get away with, “You passed a note in class. Told me to meet you at the overpass.” Lucy is convincing her lover to run with her by quelling their fears with, “Your lip was trembling when you said that we are cursed. You’re trying not to cry, when you tell me you’re afraid that we may die. I said, “So what? Everybody’s scared of that.” By now, Lucy’s lover needs only a little push to run. Lucy gives it with, “It’s a triple dog dare, you’re a chicken if you don’t.” What adolescent can resist the pull of a triple dog dare? And with this, their adventure begins and ends. Listeners do not exactly know what took place on this excursion. They are given limited details like, “They put our faces on the milk jugs. Missing children ’til they gave up. Your mama was right, and through the grief. Can’t fight the feeling of relief. Nothing worse could happen now. Nothing worse could happen now. Nothing worse could happen now.” It is known that the kids ran off, and the search for them ceased. Beyond that, it is entirely up to the listener’s interpretation.