In advance of the 4th of July, Lucy Dacus has released a new anti-patriotism single called “Forever Half Mast”. It’s the third track from the singer-songwriter’s year-long holiday song series, aptly titled 2019. It follows her cover of “La Vie En Rose” by Édith Piaf for Valentines Day and her original song “My Mother & I” for Mothers Day.
“Forever Half Mast” is about confronting the “unavoidable culpability” of being an American citizen, consumer, and generally disliked representation of the country when traveling outside of the US. Any conscious American who has travelled abroad, or even to our neighboring countries, will be familiar with the feeling. It’s a weird type of shame and confusion. In a press release, Dacus asks that instead of allowing this guilt to paralyze us, we should “try to let it influence us in positive ways.”
“Unfortunately, even at my best, I feel disoriented and heavy about being an American most of the time,” Lucy Dacus explains in the press release. “I started writing this song while we were touring in Europe. I always feel most American when I’m outside of the U.S., and it is usually a horrible feeling. I’m constantly on the brink of apologizing for unintentionally representing a country that is so destructive. Though in the same breath, I love my home, the people living there, the landscape, plenty of what America has to offer. There is a daily dissonance one endures as an American wherein much of our joy is counterweighted by shame, where much of our pride lives in tandem with injustice and suffering.”
“Forever Half Mast” strings along a country slide guitar and lethargic strumming while treading a poppy, bass drum-forward beat. True to Lucy Dacus’ songwriting, it’s got complex lyrics that sound deceptively simple by way of her delivery. The chorus hangs tight to its titular line: “Let your flag fly at forever half mast.” Give it a listen below.
Lucy Dacus recorded the entire 2019 collection during sporadic sessions during the last two years. All the tracks will eventually be released on a physical EP later this year. Other holidays she’s eyeing for song pegs include Bruce Springsteen’s birthday, Halloween, and Christmas.
There’s a chance you could hear “Forever Half Mast” live this year, too. Lucy Dacus is currently on tour with stops at Roskilde Festival, Newport Folk Festival, XPoNential Festival, Hopscotch Festival, and Mitski’s “last show indefinitely”. Check out her full list of tour dates.