Today’s Music to keep me SSssSaAAAAnnnnNneEe – Mermaid Ave – Woody Guthrie by Billy Bragg and Wilco

I find this album absolutely mesmerising! Love it. I’m off to rest my heavy head on a bed of California stars.

Today’s Music to keep me IIiiNnnnSSssaaaanNNneE in an insane world – Billy Bragg – It Says Here!

It says here that the unions will never learn!

I shall watch with interest over the next two years as the British Press propaganda machine gets into gear and tries to do to Starmer what they successfully did to Corbyn.

Run by the rich for the rich. Your paper is Tory.

There are two sides to every story.

Today’s music to keep me IIIiNnnnnSSsAaaaNNnnNEee – Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

He was right. We are always either in a war or between wars.

Amazingly he took this into the charts – which does show that there can be songs with substance in the top ten.

I like this more strident Billy Bragg. A really nice guy. Always happy to meet and talk.

Today’s Music To Keeeeep meee SSsSSAaaaNnnnEEe – Billy Bragg – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key

I love the way he brought those old Woody Guthrie lyrics to life.

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!)

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

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


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


Ain’t nobody that can sing like me