Interview with Billy Bragg - Part Two soon
2006 saw the release of two box sets containing the entire recording (almost) of the Bard of Barking Billy Bragg, thirty years and a dozen albums later Billy is as vital as ever and what remains is the passion, the beauty and the humour three qualities that his music is vibrantly full of. Meeting the man was like meeting the man down the pub, charming debatable and full of comedy. In part one of this two part interview Billy talks about the music, the changing times and the people who have world that has shaped his songs.
What does Billy Bragg’s music say today politically?
“I hope that it makes anyone who feels awkward or outside of the current spectrum wanted, I hope it makes them realise that anyone can get there point across it allows the person however isolated to get his point across on his own terms.”
What does Billy Bragg’s music say today personally?
“I think, to me personally it says it was true to my emotions, true to the spirit of the time, life isn’t perfect you have to take the rough with the smooth. You don’t write a song about your wife and name it Brickbat and then admit everything is smooth, It allows me to dig deep personally and allow the feelings to come across.”
Do you feel any artists still have something to say? Such as Dylan in the sixties?
“I feel it’s more complicated to say it, Dylan was the first and he was a great poet. Hopefully with the internet the radio and record companies will have to play with the artist more on his terms.”
New England is probably your most well known song, why do you think such a simple sentiment?
“Good question, (with a wry smile) it must be the fabulous performance general charisma of the performer and the great lyrics (Laughs). I think it’s the general connection, it’s simple but effective.”
The Internationale is suggested as your most political, was it a consensus decision to make such a statement?
“It was recorded at a time, the end of the 1980’s and the end of the cold war also saw the end of Communism as a major debatable point, I felt the good ideals of communism were being thrown out with the bad ideas. And in a way it was an attempt to reboot the good ideals of Marxism and communism for a new generation.”
Billy proudly says that the Internationale is sang by many political choirs nowadays
Most of you’re albums mix the political with the personal is this a consensus decision?
“Basically as I see the world isn’t all politics neither is it all shagging, it’s a mixture of the two that’s how I see my albums a reflection on my world at that time. Even the book is a mixture.
1986 saw the release of Talking to the Taxman about Poetry the indie style of music is seen to have come from this time with the recent anniversary of C86 do you feel this revitalised the DIY ethnics of music after the death of punk?
“Every generation seems to create a movement, even if the remnants of the actual movement are shit, I didn’t feel the movement so much but looking back you can see that some great and some not great bands came from that era.”
What is the future for Billy Bragg musically?
“It’s pretty how its been, playing the songs I love and writing new songs that reflect day to day business, a performer goes on till he can’t perform. To play the songs like your life depends on it, that’s been my life for 30 years and it will continue to be that way.”
Part 2 – Billy reflects on the politics that have shaped his world, and says fuck to apathy