Lucy Dacus Spins a Party Playlist of her Favorite Tunes

With songs by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Big Thief and more, the singer-songwriter mixes up a blend of inviting tracks to bring together a family or a family of friends.

Virginia musician Lucy Dacus has had a pretty sweet 2016. Back in February, she put out her debut album “No Burden” on a local label. Then 20 labels were so floored, they came calling to re-release it. Matador Records won the bidding war, and their reissue is out now.

Here’s Lucy with a playlist for a dinner party that doubles as a listening party.


Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Guts”

Lucy Dacus: The first song is “Guts” by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. I think the piano work is really nice. The song kind of pulls it back. Like, it feels sincere.

The lyrics are incredible to me. Specifically, the line, “I got the guts / I don’t need my blood.”

So, I’m adopted, and my mom is adopted, the woman that raised me and that I call “Mom.” The way she explains it to me is like, “We really wanted you, and that’s why we’re a family. Like, we chose each other.”

That line [“I got the guts / I don’t need my blood”], in particular, it’s just really gratifying to hear someone else express that you don’t have to worry about your blood ties if you have courage.

Big Thief – “Real Love”

What would definitely happen, and almost always does happen whenever I have events, is I check to see if anybody hasn’t heard the song “Real Love” by Big Thief.

I’m just like, “OK! Let’s, everyone, be quiet. Just lay down in our living room and listen to this song together.”

When it really hit me for the first time, we were driving. The sun was setting. We were driving into the sun. I mean, it was like, one of the all-encompassing, warmest moments of my life, being on a road trip. It was just kind of the perfect listening experience.

Adrianne Lenker is the lead singer. Her voice is just really emotive. Our guitarist, Jacob, said it reminds of him of when his mom would sing him to sleep. Like, not even that her voice is the same as his mom’s, it’s just the feeling of being soothed.

Wye Oak – “If Children Were Wishes”

There would definitely be a potluck element involved. I always feel like that is the most egalitarian way to throw a dinner party.

So, we’ve eaten everything. We’re really full. Some people are leaving. The people who are maybe closer to you are sticking around. At that point, the music would kind of calm down. So, I would probably pick “If Children Were Wishes” by Wye Oak.

The song is about expectations, building people up for disappointment, especially in family regards.

I dropped out of college. That broke expectations and was met with negativity, but it was like, I have to do this in order for me to live a fulfilled life. You just have to follow that impulse. It’s obviously turned out OK, ‘cause now I have the best job ever.

I just moved into a neighborhood that’s really close to the river. I would probably want people to end up there, sitting in the grass, maybe laying down. That would be a pretty epic ending to a party.

Lucy Dacus – “Direct Address”

I would never stay at a party where my song was being played. So, I wouldn’t play it, and then, if someone else played it, I would just have to bolt. But, if I had to, I’d probably pick the song “Direct Address.”

The song was written in the wake of a show. I saw someone and they were really listening to me. And I felt cared for by this stranger, just by how intently they were connecting.

Playing music for people, specifically people opting in to hearing your thoughts, it’s a responsibility that I take to heart and that I’m really grateful that I’ve been given.