Bird Streets Throws it Back with Hanna-Barbera-Inspired Video for 2022 Track “Go Free”

By the end of Bird Streets’ 2022 album Lagoon, the closing “Go Free” leaves off on the airier pop of “Go Free,” yet all isn’t as it seems. However poptastic “Go Free” sounds, it’s a song of “self-loathing,” something New York-based singer and songwriter John Brodeur, and brainchild of Bird Streets, knew something about when he wrote it.

“‘Go Free’ is a song about acceptance,” Brodeur tells American Songwriter. “The first handful of lines came to me right after I split up with my wife. It felt mature and self-aware at the time—the narrator recognizes that they’ve caused an imbalance in their relationship, and makes the difficult decision to let go.” Brodeur adds, “But in a way, that sentiment ‘You’ll be better off for my leaving’ makes this one of the more self-loathing songs on the album. You’d never know from the sound of it.”

Baby, you’re the anchor that’s kept me from ever drifting out to sea / But I may be the anchor that’s kept you from being what you’re meant to beGo without me / Baby, go free / ‘Cus you’re a queen, sings Brodeur around the mellowed and altruistic lament, which took a few years to complete but came together quickly once he returned to it for Lagoon.

Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee in 2020 and produced and mixed by Wilco‘s Pat Sansone—who also worked on Lagoon with co-production by Michael Lockwood (Fiona Apple), and featured guests Ed Harcourt and Aimee Mann—”Go Free” also features and John Davis (Superdrag) and former Big Star drummer Jody Stephens.

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Bird Streets (l to r) Mic Wilson (engineer), Jody Stephens, Pat Sansone, John Brodeur, John Davis at Ardent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee, 2020. (Photo: Jamie Harmon)

“Pat had just confirmed that Jody Stephens was going to play on our sessions at Ardent, and I wanted to honor the room with something that might have fit on a Big Star record,” shares Brodeur. “The track has all the classic Jody fills and Stratocaster shimmer—shout out to my man John Davis—a fan of that music could want.”

In the animated video, directed by Joanna Choy and the production company Eat Your Greens, who also worked on Bird Streets’ visuals for the Lagoon single “Sleeper Agent,” the band go on an animated adventure through time, space, and obscure places. “We wanted to do something that was worlds away from ‘Sleeper Agent,’ something whimsical and light,” says Brodeur.

“There were a lot of discussions about harnessing the spirit of the cartoons we grew up with—the shows where a band of musical misfits gets into a new predicament each week,” he adds, “and visually we kept coming back to the aesthetic style of Hanna-Barbera.”

Bird Streets’ John Brodeur (Photo: David Doobin)

Also inspired by Jackson 5ive, Groovie Goolies, and The Ren & Stimpy Show, the video features the band in animated form, including a Brodeur in a giant bird costume, a bassist “wolfman,” drumming “tortoise,” and a snake keyboardist, getting up to trouble at a local ice cream shop before they’re on a chase and have to perform their way out of trouble.

“Once I saw the character sketches I knew this was going to be really special,” says Brodeur. “A wonderful team of young animators brought the vision to life, and it’s instantly my favorite Bird Streets video because I’m not (officially) in it.”

Bird Streets will celebrate the release of the “Go Free” video with a show on Thursday, April 4 at the Bowery Electric in New York City, along with Peter Salett’s Blue Palace and Sky White Tiger.

Photo: David Doobinin / Courtesy of Bird Streets

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