I started writing this recommendation with a light Googling. It turns out that this song that Spotify threw my way a few weeks ago was recorded in honor of Lucy Dacus’ father, who shares a birthday with a singer they both loved — Bruce Springsteen, of course. And from there, I couldn’t help pondering how this song evolves through thirty-five years of music and filtered through the lens of and a female performer.
I love the way Dacus holds this song up almost like a mirror. How Springsteen is a portrait of Americana, and Dacus is here to take it for herself. I keep coming back to the line “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face” sung by a virulent man is meant to be disarming, in a woman this kind of self-scrutiny is expected, almost virtuous. Dacus makes this line less confession and more an assertion. It’s a kind of a catalyst. From here the energy builds with the tempo of the song. It’s the spark.
How does one consider “You sit around gettin’ older / There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me” in Dacus’ voice? Aside from the naked beauty of her performance, there’s the fact that she is twenty-five. When the Boss performed it he was thirty-five. And while, yes, this is probably coincidental, I know some of Dacus’ other work and her writing style and I wonder if the way she sings this line might be tongue-in-cheek. Yes, women have an expiration date. She knows this. I know this. And the joke is this: She doesn’t fucking care.
I mean, Lucy Dacus’ cover of “Dancing In The Dark” is just lovely and wonderful and well-crafted and a perfect song to throw on if you’re looking for something upbeat and nostalgic. Of course it’s all of those things. But in a way — and perhaps this is how Dacus makes this song her own — it’s also a sort of journey into owning feminine joy in a such a clever little way that it has earned a place in my heart that I can’t quite put my finger on. But I can hit the repeat button. So I will.
(Song recommendation by E. Kristin Anderson)