This song. Is. ALIVE.
I am physically charged, up to my max every time I play this song. Since yesterday, I haven’t been able to stop. I have so many thoughts and feelings about Merrill Garbus, her music, her beauty, the sounds that she and her band mates are capable of creating. So many thoughts. But I can’t really formulate them at the moment because I can’t stop swaying and shaking my head, thrashing my hair in every direction, and above all else, smiling.
I hate to say that I called this, but I did. If you remember, in 2011 I wrote a post (as a writer, I’m allowed to be critical of my work and I’m going to be critical when I say, that post was so excited about everything that I may have used the word “amazing” one too many times. I regret nothing.) about seeing tUnE-yArDs live on the Hudson Pier. There was a full moon and the air was thick with New York City summer, but I remember thinking, “These guys are going to be huge.” And secretly, I didn’t want to think that. I didn’t want them to get huge. I had a selfish moment, and even considered not writing about them, even though I said I would. I wanted to keep them in my pocket, a secret dance and hop-scotch band inspired by sounds from all over the world.
So here’s my attempt. tUnE-yArDs comes to us after a near freezing season of cold hearts and grayness, here in New York, and this track is a beating heart that lives on outside of its body. Notice how bright and full of life the music is in this song (and most of the group’s songs in general). And then there’s this duality in the wordplay and lyrics. Two different messages going on at once, hoping to provoke not only mindless movement but analysis and attention to detail.
So listen to the words I say, baby
Say give me your head
I’ll barely going round and round and round
Now I’m in your bed
How did I get ahead?
Your, your finger through my hair
Finger through my hair
Give me your chest
Give me oppress
I’ll give a thing to caress
Wouldya wouldya wouldya listen to the words I say?
Over a Diwali Riddim beat, this song demands your attention because of how summertime-playing-double-dutch-in-the-park happy and full of bounce it is. It shields the subject matter darkness of violence with a mask of color and flavor. This is a song you can taste. Bubble-gum, kiwis, mangoes, a clementine that you share with your best friend on the stoop outside your house in the middle of a hot day in July. It’s waking up numb after a night of giggles and bubbles, not speaking, and breaking out into a dance party at noon when you have a never ending list of work to do. It’s honest and uninhibited movement that you can’t explain; your brain takes a backseat and you just move.
Feel it in your bones and hit repeat, unashamed.