While Bill Press hates the National Anthem on air, National Public Radio championed a hip-hop attack on the notion of the American Dream – on the 68th anniversary of D-Day. They really know how to time these attacks. NPR’s Morning Edition celebrated a band called Tune-Yards (or, to be completely ridiculous, they spell it tUnE-yArDs) deconstructing My Country ‘Tis of Thee.
Anchor David Greene explained: “That notion of a better tomorrow for those who work hard enough is pervasive in American literature, art and music -- and so is the opposite idea, that the American Dream is just a fantasy.” The story wasn’t really reported, just narrated by the band’s artiste, an angry woman named Merrill Garbus.
MERRILL GARBUS: I'm Merrill Garbus. I started a band called tUnE-yArDs and I wrote a song called "My Country" out of frustration with the current state of the United States.
GARBUS: We cannot all have it. You know, that whole idea of the American Dream, we can all have it as long as 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.
[Song snippet; “The worst thing about living a lie / Is just wondering when they'll find out.”]
After Garbus described how she played with the “My Country” concept – and the song barely resembles the original – the listener hears more slightly garbled lyrics.
We cannot have it
Well then what do you want me to say to those others
Oh yes, there's a place for you
But that place is underneath the cushion of my behind
We cannot have it
Well then why did you say so
With my eyes open, how can I be happy
With my eyes open
If nothing of this is ours,
How will I ever know when something's mine
GARBUS: ...Because of the structures of power and of money in our country, the American people are often excluded from what's really making the policy. If we're being excluded from our government, how are we included then in this idea of the American Dream?
GARBUS: The ability to speak my feelings about my experience as an American is absolutely part of my American Dream.
The story ends with Garbus repeating: “The worst thing about living a lie / Is just wondering when they'll find out.” Then Greene brands it: “This is NPR News.”
It’s absolutely true that part of being American is the right to speak freely that America stinks and the American Dream is a bad joke. But it’s a bit tired that this would be celebrated on a government-funded radio network.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tUnE-yArDs album Whokill was listed number one on the left-wing Village Voice's critics' poll of top albums of 2011.