Music today tokeep me SANE in Isolation! – Billy Bragg

For my Billy Bragg I’m going back to the early days when he was on fire – a punk rebellion. Those fist two alums – full of politics and fire. That’s my Billy – raw, loud and highly political!

Between the Wars, Which Side Are You on. It Says Here! The World Turned Upside Down. What could be better.

I like my Billy raw and angry!

I’ve seen him a number of times live -always good! But the first time I saw him was in Hull when Between the Wars was riding the charts – just him and his guitar (amplified). He was superb. It sent jolts through me.

So today I shall be playing those first two albums loud!! (Later I might play Mermaid Avenue – his Guthrie songs – I love that too!)

https://www.google.co.uk/search?sxsrf=ALeKk00iewtIgKJpICGSQeugEDCUiIsUCw%3A1589275636421&ei=9Gu6Xtu0GYnzgAbNm7iIBw&q=youtube+billy+bragg+which+side+are+you+on&oq=youtube+-+Billy+Bragg+&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgJMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB46BAgAEEM6AggAOgQIIxAnOgUIABCDAToICAAQgwEQkQI6BQgAEJECOggIABAWEAoQHjoGCAAQDRAeUNzE7gFYnq3vAWDP3e8BaABwAHgAgAG4AogBpxiSAQg0LjE3LjEuMZgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab

Billy Bragg – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

Billy Bragg – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

Billy burst upon the unsuspecting public in in the post-punk vacuum of 1983. After the acerbic vitriol of Punk it had all gone daft with neo-romantic silliness. The politics and nihilism had burnt itself out.

Billy was an unlikely Rock star and a strange conundrum as a political figure. He was ex-army and opposed to war, a working-class kid from Barking with avowed left-wing politics. Motivated and energised by Punk, particular the stance of the band Clash, he had set out to plough his own furrow oblivious to trends, fashion or the market. He stood out as a voice against inequality, the Tories, racism and the Falklands war. He hit out at the press and the establishment with no punches pulled.

The first time I heard Billy was a short burst on TV of him busking around with a shoulder harness with two speakers, a distorted guitar spitting violence and a nasally voice with a strong North London accent that was never going to make the chorus of any opera. It was forceful and exciting. The lyrics were meaningful and barbed. I was smitten. This was just my cup of tea.

It was no surprise that his raw, aggressive sound appealed to John Peel. He always went for the real stuff as opposed to the overproduced and sophisticated. He supported Billy and gave him a platform. What was surprising was that this unlikely formula of unrefined sound and unleashed politics appealed to a wider audience. His albums began to sell and he even stormed the charts with Between the Wars – a great song about the Falkland travesty. Billy had credibility. He could sing about war because he’d been in the army. He had the perspective.

Far from initially ameliorating his caustic posture his new-found fame was put to use supporting the causes that he felt close to his heart. He put his guitar where his mouth was and got out there supporting the Miners in their struggle against the political machinations of Thatcher and the Tory government and the lies of the media. He took up with Red Wedge to support the Labour Party against the hated Tories. He supported the anti-racist groups. Billy used his fame to promote the causes and views he believed in, performed numerous benefit concerts, news conferences and TV appearances and spoke intelligently with a firm grasp of history and the current political debate. He carved himself a reputation and gathered a following though it alienated a number in the process.

I saw him perform at this time in the Trade & Labour Hall in Hull as part of the Red Wedge tour. There were the Labour MPs Tam Dalyell and John Prescott. This was the time of the Teachers strike action and as a NUT Rep I was organising strike action in my school and speaking at the regional executive. I button-holed Prescott and had a go about the state of education and was he and the Labour Party going to support the teachers. He seemed to think that all teachers were Tory voting middle-class fully fledged members of the enemy. In an expletive laden diatribe, at maximum volume, he said he’d be prepared to give the teacher’s a pay rise in line with the percentage that voted Labour. He was a bit out of touch with reality. Billy, on the other hand, was right on the money. His voice barked, words hit home and guitar scorched with distorted fury. It warmed the blood, sent the neurones buzzing with electricity and sent you home with newfound idealistic fervour. It was a rattling concert.

For me the next series of albums were disappointing. Billy seemed to have watered down his zeal, adopted a more sophisticated approach, learnt to play the guitar so that it sounded normal, toned down his lyrics to deal more with relationships, bought better equipment so that the distortion was no longer there and come up with a more Poppy style. It might have proved more popular. It might have broadened his appeal so that it brought in people from outside his normal sphere of influence but I craved the raw, radical fire-breather.

Fortunately the live concerts were not so watered down and the raw Billy was still there to be heard in all his might and fury. At the end of a concert he was always there to talk and sign albums. There was none of that star posturing and distance. He was the same.

It was no surprise when the Woody Guthrie estate, who were looking for people to put music to, and record, Woody Guthrie lyrics from the large archive Woody had left, that they should turn to Billy. Who better was there? Billy Bragg had been playing and living the same political stance as Woody. He’d stood up there in the face of hostility, on the picket lines and fought for freedom and justice just as Woody had done. The result was magical. Billy brought those Woody Guthrie lyrics to life and captured the spirit of Woody Guthrie perfectly. If Woody had been alive to hear it he would have delighted in the job well done.

Not that Billy had chosen to go back to his early brutal manner; he has done the work with tenderness, sophistication and style but the sincerity and emotion set it apart. This was full of melody and beauty as well as passion and was equal to the best of Billy.

I was delighted to find Billy, with his band featuring Ian McLaughlin of the Smallfaces, doing as rousing performances as even Billy did in his early days. We roared out ‘You fascists bound to lose’ with gusto and left buoyed and energised.

Billy is one of those rare breed who has been true to himself and an inspiration to all around him. His music touches the parts other choruses can’t reach. He continues to knock me out.

Billy Bragg – It Says Here – Lyrics about the media – Can we have democracy if the information we are fed is false?

Billy Bragg – It Says Here – Lyrics about the media – Can we have democracy if the information we are fed is false?

In order for people to be able to make decisions on important issues and electable candidates it is necessary to have access to unbiased information. Failing that it is important to have information from different sides of the argument with a clear knowledge of what the bias is.

Unfortunately this is far from the case. All our information in the media is biased towards the establishment. Information on the web comes from a number of dubious sources for a variety of reasons.

Our newspapers are owned by exceedingly rich individuals and feed us with a pile of lies, exaggerations and rubbish. They would prefer that we do not think about issues at all and concentrate on celebrity nonsense, fashion, trivia, Royals and sex. What they do put out is strongly biased to feed us the story they want us to believe.

The BBC has a reputation for being objective. This is simply not true. After seeing the scandalous way the Orgreave situation was reported on BBC news, with an editorial decision to reverse the order of the film to completely alter the narrative and blame the miners, one can clearly see the establishment bias revealed. BBC news cannot be trusted. This is increasingly true following the loading of the BBC board with Tory people. Politics has no place in the reporting of news.

Brexit clearly demonstrated this. Lies and exaggerations were the prevailing diet and went completely unchallenged.

Can you have democracy without unbiased news? I think not.

If the electorate are consistently fed political propaganda without balance they are being indoctrinated. That is not democracy.

Is Jeremy Corbyn really a left-wing nutter who is unelectable? Or do his policies make complete sense?

The brilliant Billy Bragg summed it up:-

Billy Bragg – It Says Here

It says here that the unions will never learn
It says here that the economy is on the upturn
And it says here we should be proud
That we are free
And our free press reflects our democracyThose braying voices on the right of the House
Are echoed down the Street of Shame
Where politics mix with bingo and tits
In a strictly money and numbers gameWhere they offer you a feature
On stockings and suspenders
Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders

It says here that this year’s prince is born
It says here do you ever wish
That you were better informed
And it says here that we can only stop the rot
With a large dose of Law and Order
And a touch of the short sharp shock

If this does not reflect your view you should understand
That those who own the papers also own this land
And they’d rather you believe
In Coronation Street capers
In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers
Could it be an infringement
Of the freedom of the press
To print pictures of women in states of undress

When you wake up to the fact
That your paper is Tory
Just remember, there are two sides to every story

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Woody Guthrie
I’m an individual. There ain’t nobody who can write like me.
When I was a kid my favourite track was the Kinks – ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’. I still love it.
My blog is full of whatever takes my mind. If it’s in there it will come spilling out. I live to write.
My books are full of my knowledge and imagination. I give it full vent.
Woody Guthrie is one of my heroes. Not just because of the brilliant legacy of songs that he left us – which are devastatingly brilliant and unique. He invented the topical song story – protest song and social commentary. I love him for it. But I admire him as much for his stance.
Woody stood for something and never held back. He said what he believed. He lived the way he spoke.
Woody believed in equality. He lived with the poor and blacks and fought for justice, civil rights and equal pay. He stood on the picket lines and was defiant in the face of threat and violence. He took the blows.
He was a communist who believed that trade unions were the means for working people to gain a fair wage from selfish, exploitative bosses.
He painted ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ on his guitar. He believed education and reason would win over fascist views. He thought that violence creates more violence. You oppose fundamentalist ideology with reason and intelligence.
Fascism and fundamentalism by the likes of ISIS and creationists was bound to thaw in the heat of intellectual examination.
He was a great man
Billy Bragg was asked by the Guthrie Estate to take some of Woody’s lyrics and put them to music. The result was brilliance.
Billy is another of my heroes. He is ideologically sound, a brilliant songwriter, performer and warm individual. He cares.
I chose ‘Way over Yonder in the Minor Key’ because I liked the story and the picture it creates. Being an ugly kid yet full of gusto I could relate to the lyric. I had my tanglewood days too.
This song resounds with me.
Thanks Woody and Billy. Genius!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
And I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes my little girly that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]
Way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

We walked down by the Buckeye Creek
To see the frog eat the goggle-eye bee
To hear the west wind whistle to the east
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Oh my little girly will you let me see
Way over yonder where the wind blows free
Nobody can see in our holler tree

And there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Her mama cut a switch from a cherry tree
And laid it on the she and me,
It stung lots worse than a hive of bees
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my Tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Full English Brexit – Billy Bragg

We’re not Racist. How many times have I heard that?

There’s real confusion in these days of change.

“Full English Brexit”

My neighbours don’t drink at the local
Or have kippers for breakfast like me
The food that they eat smells disgusting
They’d rather drink coffee than tea

It’s true that their kids are respectful
They gave me their seat on the bus
But it’s just that there’s so many of them
That I fear what will become of us

I’m not racist, all I want is
To make things how they used to be
But change is strange and
Nobody’s listening to me

I cheered when our side won the Cold War
Spread freedom and peace all around
Now there’s folks speaking Russian in Tesco’s
It’s a shame the wall had to come down

I know some are fleeing from war zones
To keep their young children from harm
But my parents stayed put through the Blitz years
And me? I was sent to a farm

Yeah the sun shines, but sometimes
I don’t feel like this is my country
But to say so? Oh no
I never get no sympathy

Once we ruled over an empire
So it feels like some kind of defeat
To comply with rules drawn up by strangers
And measure in metres not feet

We don’t want to go but by Jingo
If we can’t be in charge, then we must
But don’t be offended, dear neighbour
It’s not you: this is all about us

But it’s alright, alright
I think I’ve found a remedy
Yes it’s alright, gonna be alright
It’s a full English Brexit for me

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

I lived down the road from St George’s Hill and even had a girlfriend who lived there but I did not realise anything about its history until much later.

St George’s hill was the centre of a great political struggle. A group of poor people defied the land owners. They claimed that the land was no-ones to own; that is was free. They claimed the right to farm the common land and live in peace.

The land had been seized by the powerful aristocrats. The King and his barons laid claim to it all and parcelled it up between them. They sold it to their cronies. The common people had no rights.

The Diggers on St George’s Hill were attacked by the army and killed and dispersed. Their homes and crops were burnt and they were driven off.

The cruel incident was described in song by Leon Rosselson and covered by Billy Bragg.

The World Turned Upside Down – Leon Rosselson

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

Read more: Billy Bragg – The World Turned Upside Down Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Billy Bragg – Full English Brexit

Billy sympathetically puts himself in the shoes of a Brexiteer and summarises some of the feelings and reasons that led up to the vote to leave Europe.

“Full English Brexit”

My neighbours don’t drink at the local
Or have kippers for breakfast like me
The food that they eat smells disgusting
They’d rather drink coffee than teaIt’s true that their kids are respectful
They gave me their seat on the bus
But it’s just that there’s so many of them
That I fear what will become of usI’m not racist, all I want is
To make things how they used to be
But change is strange and
Nobody’s listening to me

I cheered when our side won the Cold War
Spread freedom and peace all around
Now there’s folks speaking Russian in Tesco’s
It’s a shame the wall had to come down

I know some are fleeing from war zones
To keep their young children from harm
But my parents stayed put through the Blitz years
And me? I was sent to a farm

Yeah the sun shines, but sometimes
I don’t feel like this is my country
But to say so? Oh no
I never get no sympathy

Once we ruled over an empire
So it feels like some kind of defeat
To comply with rules drawn up by strangers
And measure in metres not feet

We don’t want to go but by Jingo
If we can’t be in charge, then we must
But don’t be offended, dear neighbour
It’s not you: this is all about us

But it’s alright, alright
I think I’ve found a remedy
Yes it’s alright, gonna be alright
It’s a full English Brexit for me

Billy Bragg – Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

Billy Bragg has this great new EP out with some really strong songs that cover the important issues – Brexit, Global Warming, Racism, Exploitation and Trump.

Billy always brings a fresh and interesting perspective to bear.

This one resonated with me. As a man who spent his career in education, with its regime of tick-board and testing strangulating the life out of students and teachers alike, I know the most important things cannot be counted.

“Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted”

Be nice if we could have our cake and eat it
Though that’s impossible to do
But too many have invested in this outcome
They simply can’t afford for it not to come true
We ceded too much power to the market
Let it decide what’s right or wrong
Now everyone seems willing to lent credence
And truth is so devalued, it’s going for a songNot everything that counts can be counted
Holds the markets to account
Not everything that counts can be counted
Not everything that can be counted counts

People have had enough of experts
And their inconvenient facts
Here’s what the media really won’t tell ya
Exactly who it is that’s taking control back
All opinions are equal
In the free market of ideas
And truth is nothing more than an opinion
That’s the garnered the most likes, provoked the loudest cheers

Not everything that counts can be counted
Holds the market to account
Not everything that counts can be counted
Not everything that can be counted counts

There isn’t really any room for dreamers
If you have principles that’s nice
The market isn’t interested in values
Except for those it can define its price
All bow to the power of the market
Till it throws up a different face
If you’re not white or male or compliant
The system is designed to keep you in your place

Not everything that counts can be counted
Holds the market to account
Not everything that counts can be counted
Not everything that can be counted counts

My Favourite Protest Songs – Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

I like my Billy Bragg with his raw guitar and idealistic lyrics. He aspires the politics I agree with. I want that vision of a fair and just society. This song sums it up for me and it got right up there in the Top Ten. Just shows there were a lot of people that fairness and justice resonates with.

Between the Wars
This song is by Billy Bragg and appears on the album Brewing Up With Billy Bragg (1984) and on the album The Peel Sessions Album (1991).

I was a miner, I was a docker
I was a railway man between the wars
I raised a family in times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry between the wars

I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help the working man
But they brought prosperity down at the armoury
We’re arming for peace me boys, between the wars

I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man

Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we knew between the wars

Call up the craftsmen, bring me the draughtsmen
Build me a path from cradle to grave
And I’ll give my consent to any government
That does not deny a man a living wage

Go find the young men never to fight again
Bring up the banners from the days gone by
Sweet moderation, heart of this nation
Desert us not, we are between the wars

 

Billy Bragg – It Says Here – Lyrics about the media – Can we have democracy if the information we are fed is false?

Billy Bragg – It Says Here – Lyrics about the media – Can we have democracy if the information we are fed is false?

In order for people to be able to make decisions on important issues and electable candidates it is necessary to have access to unbiased information. Failing that it is important to have information from different sides of the argument with a clear knowledge of what the bias is.

Unfortunately this is far from the case. All our information in the media is biased towards the establishment. Information on the web comes from a number of dubious sources for a variety of reasons.

Our newspapers are owned by exceedingly rich individuals and feed us with a pile of lies, exaggerations and rubbish. They would prefer that we do not think about issues at all and concentrate on celebrity nonsense, fashion, trivia, Royals and sex. What they do put out is strongly biased to feed us the story they want us to believe.

The BBC has a reputation for being objective. This is simply not true. After seeing the scandalous way the Orgreave situation was reported on BBC news, with an editorial decision to reverse the order of the film to completely alter the narrative and blame the miners, one can clearly see the establishment bias revealed. BBC news cannot be trusted. This is increasingly true following the loading of the BBC board with Tory people. Politics has no place in the reporting of news.

Brexit clearly demonstrated this. Lies and exaggerations were the prevailing diet and went completely unchallenged.

Can you have democracy without unbiased news? I think not.

If the electorate are consistently fed political propaganda without balance they are being indoctrinated. That is not democracy.

Is Jeremy Corbyn really a left-wing nutter who is unelectable? Or do his policies make complete sense?

The brilliant Billy Bragg summed it up:-

Billy Bragg – It Says Here

It says here that the unions will never learn
It says here that the economy is on the upturn
And it says here we should be proud
That we are free
And our free press reflects our democracyThose braying voices on the right of the House
Are echoed down the Street of Shame
Where politics mix with bingo and tits
In a strictly money and numbers game

Where they offer you a feature
On stockings and suspenders
Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders

It says here that this year’s prince is born
It says here do you ever wish
That you were better informed
And it says here that we can only stop the rot
With a large dose of Law and Order
And a touch of the short sharp shock

If this does not reflect your view you should understand
That those who own the papers also own this land
And they’d rather you believe
In Coronation Street capers
In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers
Could it be an infringement
Of the freedom of the press
To print pictures of women in states of undress

When you wake up to the fact
That your paper is Tory
Just remember, there are two sides to every story