When I first heard ‘Once In My Life’ – the opening track from The Decemberists’ new album, I’ll Be Your Girl – I was taken aback by the jarring familiarity the simple lyrics struck within me. The overwhelming ‘for once in my life, could just something go right?’ echoed throughout the song and lingered long after the track faded to its end. No matter the struggle standing in our path, ‘Once In My Life’ is a song we can all painfully relate to but find strength in the cathartic connection it brings – a feeling captured in the music video released for the song last month (July 17th).
Watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHFbaF9_kpI
Described by frontman, Colin Meloy, as a ‘celebration of sadness’ it’s no wonder the band found it difficult to think of a music video concept that would embody the spirit deserving of ‘Once In My Life.’ After some contemplation, it was decided that the song needed to become something more than just a plea to the universe but a breakout from the constraints placed upon us by a judgemental society. Enlisting the help of long time friend and collaborator, Autumn de Wilde, led to the artistically powerful music video that remains true to the song’s simplicity but manages to evoke the emotions fuelling it.
The video stars Autumn’s brother, Jacob de Wilde, who has faced judgment for his appearance and Auditory Processing Disorder, acting as a representation for anyone who has ever felt ostracised for simply being who they are. The narrative of the music video is told through the very thing Jacob has been ridiculed for, his body, through a serious of organic dance moves that express a variety of unspoken emotions. Jacob manages to convey both the fear and the fight being isolated can evoke, the variation of moves building and moving forward as the song soars. Autumn has described the music video as ‘a love letter’ to her brother and made sure everyone else involved was accepting and supporting of the video’s message. These other people featured in the video appear as characters with their own struggles who meet Jacob and begin to mirror his dance moves, representing the connection both the song and our differences can create between us. The end of the video sees Jacob ascending out of frame with the other characters watching in awe, possibly implying how it can only take one person to inspire and begin changing the mindsets of others.
The music video for ‘Once In My Life’ celebrates the differences we all have that make us unique, it’s simplicity portraying the intricacies of being human.
Review by Skye W.Winwood