Lucy Dacus is conflicted about America. The chorus of her new song, "Forever Half Mast," begins with the line, "Yes you're evil, but you're not that bad." The inspired songwriter from Richmond dropped me a note to say, "I wrote it years ago as an answer to my own question about whether or not any American can be a good person since we are all passively benefitting from one of the most violent and destructive systems in the world. I don't so much believe in the dualistic idea of people either being good or bad anymore, but I still believe the sentiment."
This song is part of a series of holiday-centric tunes Lucy Dacus has recorded. The first tune, released for Valentine's Day, was "La Vie en rose," made famous by Édith Piaf. Lucy followed it with "My Mother & I" a song for Mother's Day. She says they're a way to understand the holidays.
I find Lucy Dacus' words thought-provoking. As we approach the Fourth of July, I'm enamored by the next line in the chorus when she sings, "you put out your palm more than the back of your hand." Lucy explains that "what I mean is that the best you can do is stay aware of the hurt that America does and offer up generosity, empathy, and resistance in the face of it. The last lines of the song are, 'Wait for something magical, mistake turned into miracle,' which sums up the root of the song — how disorienting, and essential hopefulness is when surrounded by horror."
That sense of hope is at the center of much of what Lucy Dacus writes about. It's a sentiment I feel we all need as we celebrate our coming day of Independence.