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Billy Bragg

Podcast 3

Billy Bragg

steve dawson

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My guest this month is the incredibly original singer, songwriter, author and activist, Billy Bragg. Bragg was the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the '80s, and for most of the decade, he bashed out songs alone on his electric guitar, singing about politics and love. While his lyrics were bitingly intelligent and clever, they were also warm and humane, filled with detail and wit. Even though his lyrics were carefully considered, Bragg never neglected to write melodies for songs that were strong and memorable. With a strong DIY ethic and punk-rock attitude, Billy recorded an incredible body of work from the late 70's up through his recent collaborations with Joe Henry. Billy went from his obscure first recordings (which are awesome) through commercial success, working with artists like Paul Weller and Johnny Marr. Kirsty MacColl had a hit with "New England" and Billy's own solo recordings gained attention worldwide. Then in 1998, he teamed up with Wilco to record Mermaid Avenue, a collection of performances based on unreleased songs originally written by Woody Guthrie. That spawned 2 follow-up records that are all incredible documents of Americana. His latest records, "Tooth and Nail" and "Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad" mark a new direction in his work and prove that he's as vital as ever. He has also recently released an incredible book that details the history of skiffle music in Britain entitled "Roots, Radicals and Rockers". Thanks go out to Joe Henry for introducing us, and please enjoy my conversation with Billy Bragg!