'My Country': tUnE-yArDs Questions The American Dream

by NPR Staff

Merrill Garbus is the singer and songwriter behind the band tUnE-yArDs.
Merrill Garbus is the singer and songwriter behind the band tUnE-yArDs. (Courtesy of the artist)
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    Jun 5, 2012

Merrill Garbus, the woman behind the experimental folk-rock band tUnE-yArDs, wrote her song "My Country" with the state of the union on her mind. The melody resembles "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at first but quickly veers into more chaotic territory.

" 'My Country,' first of all, does this thing of playing with the original patriotic melody," Garbus says. "It lands on this really weird, unexpected note, and that's something that musically says, 'There's something suspect here; let's investigate this more.' "

Garbus says she hopes the song will entice listeners to examine the notion of the American dream — an idea she finds disingenuous.

"We cannot all have it," Garbus says. "You know, that's the whole idea of the American dream, that we can all have it as long we work hard — and that is untrue. There are so many ways in our country where we are not giving the same opportunities to everybody."

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