© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

tUnE-yArDs, 'Real Thing'

My favorite song from tUnE-yArDs 2014 release Nikki Nackhas gotten a wacky, cartoony visual treatment.

Merrill Garbus, the uke-looping, drum-beating, vibrant singer behind tUnE-yArDs, says that "Real Thing" was the one song on the album that she didn't actually want to make into a video. "It has too many images of its own in the lyrics, and could mean so many different things for different listeners," she wrote. "I love leaving room for audiences to paint their own mental pictures. What changed my mind is wanting so much for this particular song to be heard by more people"

Director Tom Jobbins says he took his visual cues from the sound of "Real Thing." "Hearing the song made me think of bright patterns and dancing hands! With these initial thoughts in my mind and the song on repeat I envisaged a madcap story about three plastic sisters and an all-singing, all-dancing Merrill," he says.

The video reminds me a bit of conveyor belt scene on I Love Lucy. For Merrill Garbus it's a bit more Chaplin. "We chose Tom Jobbins'idea because it framed the sometimes heavy lyrics in a Charlie Chaplin-like, humorous idea of me being a box of body parts in a factory. A simple and light-hearted backdrop for some complex and weighty ideas," she says.

Hopefully Merrill is right and the song will get its due thanks to the zany video, which is also a perfect match for the cartoonish nature of her brilliant live show. If you've not seen the tour, were just added and she'll be in NYC for four nights in December.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.