Moira Smiley's "Dressed in Yellow" Is a Triumph of Love, Understanding, and Emotional Strength (premiere)
Moira Smiley's video for "Dressed in Yellow" sets the complexities of father-daughter relationships to a healing ballad.
Like so many of us, singer and composer Moira Smiley knows the complexities and complications that can mark parent-child relationships. "My father," she says, "was a mercurial, emotionally dark, but intellectually bright creative force in the lives of my siblings and I. Like so many kids, we grew up with huge misunderstandings and hurts to do with our father, but we could each see his gifts and love as well."
Smiley's new video for folk ballad "Dressed in Yellow" finds a release for the tensions inherent in these dualities. Written in the tUnE-yArDs' tour bus in the two years that Smiley spent constantly on tour - the same two years that birthed April release Unzip the Horizon - Smiley cites a dream about her father as the direct inspiration for the song.
"It was one of those very rare, very clear dreams where you feel different when you wake up," she elaborates. "That morning, as I wrote the dream down, it felt like my own personal Father's Day - the first time I could celebrate him clearly, without holding on to the confusion and hurt."
A masterwork of vulnerability, the video allows Smiley to come face-to-face with a stand-in for her late father, navigating her thoughts and feelings to a responding refrain of "Take heed, take warning, daughter / There are many things to know," provided by old-time duo Anna and Elizabeth.
"Oh, Father, oh, Father, I could not trust you," Smiley laments, "I had no warning, Father / Your anger closed the door of my young heart." Alternating outdoor and indoor shots of the artist, the father, and a child meant to represent a young Smiley are bathed in sunlight as slow piano echoes behind the vocals. In the space the sound and light create, she airs her grievances until, by the end, she finds healing and resolution.
"The key ingredient in the dream," she explains, "was laughter. It was laughing at ourselves and our self-protecting hurts and anger that released us - released me into this feeling of love, empathy, and forgiveness. Simple and true."
Few holidays have the potential to be as fraught as Father's Day. Moira Smiley's "Dressed in Yellow" never glosses over the struggles. Instead, it exults in overcoming them, a triumph of love, understanding, and emotional strength.