“Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus: My Favorite Song of 2018

A few weeks ago, and a several weeks into my obsession with Lucy Dacus, I bought tickets to her Feb. 11 show in Norman, Oklahoma. Not too long after that, Lucy tweeted this:

If you’re looking for a last minute gift, forward your ticket receipt for any of our upcoming shows to lucyholidaything@gmail.com and I’ll write a note for whoever you’re giving them to, no cost.

Of course (obviously), I did. Within minutes, I was corresponding with Lucy freaking Dacus. She even sent a “(:”. Seriously. I forget that some of these musicians are so young (she’s 23).

I had a handwritten note emailed back to me within half an hour, featuring her bubbled signature. I love me some Lucy Dacus.

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None of this discourse would have happened had I not already fallen in love/been pulverized by the emotional weight of Lucy’s magnum opus, “Night Shift.”

Here is why I love “Night Shift,” and why it is my favorite song of 2018. Listen and follow along for the optimal experience:

  • The opening line, “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit I had a coughing fit,” exudes a rawness, confidence, and balance of control and vulnerability seldom seen in music, especially from someone who is a relative newcomer.
  • 1:00 – She begins to showcase her singing ability. She carefully skates her way through different octaves and the song’s slow build is palpable.
  • 1:52 – The drums come in, and the pulse of the song emotionally is matched by the steady, sharp beat.
  • 2:06 – I get chills every time. “Don’t hold your breath.” Can’t help it.
  • 2:56 – The song builds into its bridge, but the subsequent shift in tone and melody hits you like a truck.
  • 3:22 – “You’ve got a nine-to-five, so I’ll take the night shift. And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.” Maybe my favorite rock lyric of the year. Just incredibly visceral and poignant.
  • 4:10 – The powerful fuzzy guitar kicks in, along with louder drumming. It’s the beginning of the song’s crescendo, which lasts until the end of the song. There is repetition lyrically, which, I think, has value in a song like this. One thing that long songs tend to have is an anthemic quality to them. My personal favorite Long Song is Weezer’s “Only in Dreams,” which I contend is a perfect rock song. The end of the song is just Rivers Cuomo screaming the titular lyrics while the music is exploding behind him. You get that same concept here, but the lyrics being what they are adds a layer of emotion and relatability as well.
  • 4:54 – I wrote a few weeks ago about how the extended cut of Chromatics’ “I’m On Fire” cover was great because you can get lost in it. This is when I lose myself in “Night Shift.” It’s my favorite quality in a song–the Narnia factor, if you will. I am Edmund, and Lucy is my White Witch, enticing me with Turkish Delights. Whatever the hell that means.
  • 5:41 – In all the videos I’ve seen of her performing “Night Shift” live, the audience absolutely loses their minds at this part. The reserved, focused performer has her Karen O moment and really wails, both energizing the song and crowd. I can’t believe I get to hear it live in Oklahoma in a few weeks.
  • 6:32 – The song ends and I play it again, usually. My only qualm–it ends too quickly. The way Weezer loses their collective minds in “Only in Dreams” and tightropes to a soft, intimate ending is my favorite ending of a song in rock history. “Night Shift” ends beautifully, but too abruptly.

I absolutely recommend this song, her entire discography, and the boygenius EP.

 

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