The National frontman Matt Berninger and acclaimed singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers have combined their considerable talents for the very first time, resulting in a gorgeous new song, “Walking on a String,” out now via Dead Oceans. The duo can be seen performing their contribution to the recently released Between Two Ferns: The Movie as star Zach Galifianakis looks on in the song’s intimate music video, also released on Thursday.
Berninger wrote “Walking on a String” specifically for Netflix’s Between Two Ferns film, collaborating with his wife, writer Carin Besser, and musician Mike Brewer. Berninger and Bridgers recorded the song at Sound City in California, accompanied by Walter Martin (guitar) and Matt Barrick (drums) of The Walkmen. Bridgers, Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska produced the track, while Tom Berninger and Chris Sgroi directed, shot and edited the accompanying video, set at Earthstar Creation Center in Venice, Calif.
A press release recounts how “Walking on a String” came to be created and included in the Between Two Ferns movie:
Between Two Ferns: The Movie’s producer and writer/director Scott Aukerman had given Berninger carte blanche to create whatever he wanted—with whomever he wanted—provided the resulting song would sound right at home being performed in a bar scene set in the heartland of America. The song, performed as a duet between the two singers, was recorded in two versions—presented in both soaring, lush pop glory and as hushed, chilled-out Americana. The band’s performance in the movie was filmed at Oh Grady’s bar in the San Fernando Valley, California.
Berninger and Bridgers’ barroom duet is just one of many cameos packed into Between Two Ferns: The Movie, in which Galifianakis is forced to take his painfully awkward interview show on the road in order to save it from cancellation. A splash of that cringe comedy makes its way into the “Walking on a String” video, as well: About halfway through the song, Galifianakis happens to walk by the studio, realizing he wasn’t invited to the recording. He sits in and listens to the remainder of the song, at one point appearing overwhelmed by Bridgers’ voice. “I was doing a spider metaphor through this whole thing because of the ferns,” Berninger explains to Galifianakis afterwards.
The National released their latest album, I Am Easy to Find, in May, while Bridgers finished recording her forthcoming second album just this week—more on that right here.
Watch the “Walking on a String” video below, and revisit The National’s 2007 Daytrotter session and Bridgers’ 2017 Paste Studio session further down.