Song of the Week – Thumbs, Lucy Dacus

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

Lucy Dacus is a talented singer/songwriter that released her first album, No Burden, in 2016 when she was just 21 years old.  It received significant critical acclaim as have her other works, including albums Historian (2018), Home Video (2021), and EP Boygenius (2018), her collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker.

One of the best songs on Home Video has a particularly interesting backstory.  “Thumbs” was written about a night when Dacus went out to a bar with a friend to a meeting with the friend’s ne’er-do-well, mostly absent father.  By the end of the get-together, she was fantasizing about killing the man.

I would kill him
If you let me
I would kill him
Quick and easy
Your nails are digging
Into my knee
I don’t know
How you keep smiling

Then she tries to give agency back to her friend by reassuring her:

I wanna take your face between my hands and say
“You two are connected by a pure coincidence
Bound to him by blood, but baby, it’s all relative
You’ve been in his fist ever since you were a kid
But you don’t owe him shit even if he said you did
You don’t owe him shit even if he said you did”

The minimalist musical accompaniment adds to the drama of the scene.  The tone of it reminds me of Suzanne Vega’s a cappella “Tom’s Diner.”

In an interview with MOJO’s Victoria Segal, Dacus was asked “Your songs (on Home Video) are so personal and specific, do you worry about the subjects coming to find you?”  Dacus replied:

“That’s one of my biggest sources of anxiety right now because there’s a lot of songs that are on the record that are about people I haven’t spoken to for a really long time,  I think in my previous records I’ve been really careful about not writing about people that I wouldn’t want to hear from, but that cut me off from a lot of material.  If people reach out to me, I am prepared to talk to them – it just makes my stomach hurt to think about it.”

But it doesn’t necessarily turn out bad.  For  “Thumbs”, Dacus was quoted in Rolling Stone saying:

“… my friend that it’s about told me, ‘The song is about the fact that you were there for me on that day.  And that’s not sad at all.’”

Enjoy… until next week.

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