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Deconstructing Lucy Dacus’ Night Shift And The MV Release

Deconstructing Lucy Dacus’ Night Shift And The MV Release

In Lucy Dacus’ monolithic alternative rock album, Historian, one song evokes heartbreak in the fullest capacity: Night Shift. If you’ve been a long fan of Lucy Dacus and her music, you will know that that this song is her magnum opus—the pinnacle of her prowess for writing and playing instruments. The song is visceral and sleek in telling a tragedy in love.

Night Shift was released as a lead single for Dacus’ sophomore album during December 2017. Five years after, she is finally releasing a music video to accompany her biggest song. But the question is, why only now? And what does this mean for those who consider the song vital for their lives (like me)?

The story and voice

On Night Shift, Lucy Dacus shares how laborious it is to digest, understand and recover from and old love. The evocative lyricism conjures all the squirming discomfort of stepping into a new romantic encounter with a former flame’s taste lingering on your tongue. She encapsulates this as soon as she sings the first line: “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit / I had a coughing fit.”

Lucy Dacus told in one Rolling Stone interview that the song is the aftermath of the end of a five-year relationship with her former bassist. It’s a personal song, and it shows. In the song, she tells that she meets her old lover for a coffee. Pain, anger and confusion mixes together in the process. She’s furious at their need to reopen old wounds. She defines all these with emotional precision. Dacus paints this strained scene remarkably. She’s remorseless but she calls herself a masochist for resisting her urges. She sings: “What was the plan? Absolve your guilt and shake hands?”

The song sprawls across its six and a half minutes, but never flatlines. Every next line is just as heavy as the previous one. She tells “You don’t deserve what you don’t respect / Don’t deserve what you say you love and then neglect.” This is paired with Lucy Dacus’ voice that has a snuggly allure, warm tone. It’s so deep, and decadent, it gives more insult to the injury she’s singing about.

In the end of the song, she surrenders to the emotions and her urges. She’s ready to forgive, but not fully as she thinks: “I feel no need to forgive but I might as well / But let me kiss your lips so I know how it felt.”

The music video

So why did Lucy Dacus release the music video for Night Shift five years after its debut? Is it to reopen the wounds of everyone who considered the song vital to one of their heartbreak moments? Is it to just simply celebrate the anniversary of the song? Well, actually there are a few big reasons.

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For starters, it’s in the lyrics. In the end part of Night Shift, Lucy bellows “In five years I hope the songs feel like covers / Dedicated to new lovers.” That’s how she has always envisioned the song to be: a break-up song turning into a new love song a few years after its release. Now, after five years, as the lyrics have said, Lucy Dacus revisits that palpable heartache by releasing an official music video. This time, she’s not in pain anymore, and even the music video proves that: she meets a new love in it. What used to be a song for her pain is now, as the lyrics says, dedicated to new lovers.

Lucy Dacus also mentioned in an interview that the five-year gap also depicts the span of her previous relationship with her former bassist, which also half-decade. It’s fitting to give importance to the passing of time and recognize its role in recovering. Furthermore, in 2018, the singer told Rolling Stone about her connection to David Bowie’s 1972 record Five Years. She told them: “When I heard Five Years I just started crying. [Five Years] is what got me started on this whole train of thought: How are you going to fit everything in one life? What’s the most important?”

The music video for Lucy Dacus’ Night Shift was directed by Jane Schoenbrun. In the video, a fan convention inspired by the Wizard of Oz exist around Dacus. When she join the party, under the hue of green lights, she finds her Dorothy, played by Scream actress Jasmin Savoy.

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