The Decemberists unveil poignant video for “Once In My Life”: Watch

Directed by acclaimed photographer Autumn de Wilde and starring her brother, Jacob

the decemberists once in my life music video

Ahead of next month’s Travelers’ Rest Festival, acclaimed folk rock outfit The Decemberists have returned with a new music video for “Once In My Life”, off their latest album, I’ll Be Your Girl. Directed by noted photographer Autumn de Wilde, the clip follows de Wilde’s brother, Jacob, a 7’2” man suffering from auditory processing disorder.

(Read: Ranking: Every Decemberists Album From Worst to Best)

Frontman Colin Meloy notes the approach, which centers around struggles of self-love and physical acceptance, was particularly resonant, as his own son, Hank, is autistic. Both Meloy and de Wilde have released individual statements about the clip, which you can read below.


We were searching for a video idea for “Once In My Life” that would somehow capture the spirit of the song. In my mind, the song is a meditation, a plea to the cosmos that I imagine everyone, at some point or another, has made. We asked our old friend and collaborator Autumn de Wilde to pitch an idea and she came to us with a simple but powerful story: a depiction of her brother Jacob, a man who has lived with physical and intellectual differences his entire life, dancing in the streets of Los Angeles. The song, in this light, becomes more than just a “celebration of sadness,” (which I have sometimes called it) but suddenly a longing holler to the universe against one’s perceived otherness.

This idea is particularly close to me as I’ve witnessed how the world sees my son Hank, who is autistic. When I’m out in public with Hank, I’m acutely aware of the world’s attachment to social and behavioral norms; in these situations, Hank’s otherness can suddenly be put in stark relief. Through the lens of Jacob’s joyful and defiant movement in Autumn’s video, we see a man shrugging off the constraints of an unaccommodating and judgmental world and truly reveling in his body and mind.

de Wilde:

My brother Jacob is 7’2”.
His feet are size 22.
He has Auditory Processing Disorder.
He likes to dress up as Chewbacca.
He is not a basketball player.
This video is my love letter to him.

My mother said to me recently when we were talking about the way the people tend to react to Jacob, someone who looks and sounds extraordinarily different from their opinion of what normal is: “When we see someone new or different, we have to stop thinking about ourselves for a moment in order to really experience them. As humans, we tend to want to put our fingerprints all over other people.”

The Decemberists’ song “Once In My Life” is the song I needed when I was young…. when I felt stared at, mocked or unseen for my heart and mind. Jacob also had an immediate emotional reaction to the song when I played it for him the first time. I had been wanting to explore a creative collaboration with my brother for a while, and this was the perfect song.

I have a very strong connection to Hank Meloy, Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis’ son, who is autistic. He has very much inspired my mind and imagination as an artist and a thinker. Although Jacob and Hank’s bodies and diagnosis are very different, Jacob, Hank and all of us who look different, sound different, or think different have a connection in our experience of otherness. There are many of us who feel sometimes like we live in a sort of dollhouse for the wrong doll, but our perspective can shift dramatically when we realize, in fact, that our difference has simply redefined the space we are in. My brother is in his 40’s and his long journey to achieve the comfort and understanding in how he moves, communicates and connects to others is inspiring to me. Self-love and acceptance are the real superpowers waiting for all of us.

Everyone featured in the video and working on the crew is a friend who gave 100% to this project. I wanted Jacob to be surrounded by friends who were committed to helping him tell this story, but also create a safe space for Jacob, which changed our pace and usual process for filmmaking. It was thrilling as a director and a sister to challenge Jacob and myself. I am honored to have put the spotlight on him, watched my brother flourish as an artistic human onscreen and show us how gorgeous different is.

Watch it below.

A few days after Travelers’ Rest, the band will embark on a slew of US dates that will, come November, segue into a tour of the UK and Europe in support of their latest cuts. Joining them will be an impressive list of openers, including Whitney, Hop Along, Hamilton Leithauser, Marissa Nadler, Givers, and Kacy & Clayton. See the band’s full tour itinerary below, and grab tickets here.

The Decemberists 2018 Tour Dates:
July 26 – Bend, OR @ Les Schwab Amphitheater +
July 27 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theater +
July 28 – Stateline, NV @ Montbleu Resort & Casino +
July 30 – San Diego, CA @ Humphrey’s +
July 31 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre +
August 1 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues +
August 2 – Park City, UT @ Snow Park Amphitheater +
August 4-5 – Missoula, MT @ Travelers’ Rest
August 9 – Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Folk Festival
August 11 – Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen *
August 12 – Fort Collins, CO @ Bohemian Nights at Newwestfest
August 14 – Brooklyn, NY @ BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at Prospect Park Bandshell ^
September 16 – Ottawa, ON @ Cityfolk
September 17 – Hamilton, ON @ FirstOntario Concert Hall #
September 18 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live! #
September 20 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre #
September 21 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City Birmingham #
September 22 – St. Augustine, FL @ Sing Out Loud: A City of St. Augustine Celebration of Music
September 23 – Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues #
September 25 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall #
September 26 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre #
September 27 – Dallas, TX @ Majestic Theater #
September 29 – Austin, TX @ Bass Concert Gall #
September 30 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom #
October 1 – Omaha, NE @ Holland Performing Arts Center #
October 2 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee #
October 4 – North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA ~
October 5 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theater ~
October 8 – Indianapolis, IN @ Murat Theatre at Old National Centre ~
November 4 – Dublin, IR @ Vicar Street %
November 5 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 Academy %
November 7 – London, UK @ Eventim Apollo %
November 8 – Bristol, UK @ O2 Academy %
November 10 – Leeds, UK @ O2 Academy %
November 11 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City %
November 12 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall %
November 14 – Utrecht, NL @ Grote Zaal TiVre %
November 15 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso %
November 16 – Berlin, DE @ Astra %
November 17 – Rust, DE @ Rolling Stone Park @ Europa-Park

+ = w/ Whitney
^  = w/ Hamilton Leithauser
* = w/ Givers
# = w/ Kacy & Clayton
~ = w/Marissa Nadler
% = w/Hop Along


Follow Consequence