“I think a lot of childhood is crisis mode — and if it’s not crisis mode, its autopilot.”
Growing up is never easy, but you wouldn’t always know that from pop music. Songs about adolescence too often gloss over the complicated moments. The “teenage dream” archetype is a pop-culture fantasy — and no one really wants to be 17 forever.
Lucy Dacus remembers the uncomfortable moments. On her new album Home Video, she talks about youthful growing pains. “A lot of childhood is crisis mode,” she explains on the latest episode of Switched on Pop, which you can hear below. “You get pushed around by the world and the rules that are set for you.” Her songs examine unequal power relationships between parents and friends and lovers.
On the lighter side, the album opens up with “Hot and Heavy,” which takes us back to the scene of an early romantic encounter on a basement sofa, red-faced and awkward. But by the next song, “Christine,” the amorous feelings fade: “He can be nice, sometimes / Other nights, you admit he’s not what you had in mind.” Bad dads, bible camp indoctrination, and perpetual peer pressure all take the stage in Dacus’s coming-of-age album.
Dacus says that writing about those years is “a process of exerting control over things that I didn’t have control over at the time.” With untethered teenage dreams safely behind her, Dacus now gets to reclaim the meaning of youth: “I am the narrator of my own life, so I get to say what this meant.”