Video Gold

This New Decemberists’ Video Is Life-Affirming Brilliance

The music video for "Once in My Life" is a seven-minute celebration of being different.

By Fiona McCann July 19, 2018

The Decemberists' new video for the single "Once in My Life" dropped July 17, and it's a powerful ode to difference. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, it stars her learning-disabled brother Jacob dancing through the streets of Los Angeles, and begins with his voice: “My name is Jacob," he says, as we see him sitting down in a diner. "I’m 7-foot-2, size 22 shoe. When you have a learning disability it kinda makes the person interesting to talk to, because of their difference, and the best thing is if they’re different, is not to judge them. If they’re tall, or different shapes.”

On the band’s YouTube channel, Decemberists front man Colin Meloy writes that with the video, the song “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.” He goes on to talk about his own 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.”

Also on YouTube, De Wilde adds: “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 40s 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, she says, is a friend whose presence created a safe space for her brother to express himself. We defy you to remain unmoved (in every sense of the word.) 

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