RETURN TO MAIN BILLY BRAGG WEBSITE
  • Billy Bragg - Bridges not walls
  • Billy Bragg - Sleep of Reason
  • Billy Bragg - King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood
  • Billy Bragg - King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood
  • Billy Bragg - Saffiyah Smiles
  • Billy Bragg - Full English Brexit
  • Billy Bragg - Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted
  • Billy Bragg cds

    The Sleep of Reason


    Now that we’re finding out the true meaning of the Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times!’, Billy Bragg, who has just published his acclaimed book ‘Roots, Radicals & Rockers’, returns to his full-time career as protest singer and will release a new single ‘The Sleep Of Reason’ on July 7th 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label. ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, inspired by a visit to The Prado gallery in Madrid where Billy saw Goya’s etching ‘The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters’, is an impassioned polemical anthem set to a stark buzzsaw melody. Written in response to the events of 2016, it is the first of several songs Billy plans to release over the course of the coming months.

    Says Billy: “Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so I’ve decided to start dropping tracks as they become ready. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on.

    The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is the name of an etching created in 1799 by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The title struck a chord with me when trying to understand the events of last year. The lies and hubris of the Leave campaign in our EU referendum were echoed and amplified by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Only by restoring empathy and reason can we hope to defeat the monstrous forces of nationalism and untruth.”

    Billy Bragg will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood


    Billy Bragg, who has just returned from touring the US, will release a new song ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’ on Aug. 4th 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label.  ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’, a gorgeous alt-country shuffle recorded in Tottenham with pedal steel by C J Hillman, is a wake-up call to those who would deny that global warming is a real and imminent threat. It follows hot on the heels of Billy’s previous single ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, which was released in July and has gone down a storm on his recent live shows.

    Says Billy: “Sunny day flooding is a costal phenomenon in which strong tides cause water to gush up from drains and beneath the ground, swamping basements and inundating roads. Rises in sea level due to melting ice-caps are making it an increasingly common occurrence in Florida, where some residential areas are experiencing it on an almost monthly basis. These communities are canaries in the mine, already living with the stark realities of climate change that some still deny is happening. On a planet the surface of which is 70% water, in which the temperature of oceans drives our weather systems, we will all be affected by global warming unless we act now to limit the damage done."

    Billy Bragg, who is about to play some shows in Europe before returning to tour the US in October, will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    WHY WE BUILD THE WALL


    Billy Bragg, who will play Rivfest in Warrington before heading out to North America for the first leg of his ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour at the end of September, will release a new single ‘Why We Build The Wall’ on Sept 1st 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label.  ‘Why We Build The Wall’ was written by American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell as part of her 2010 ‘folk opera’ ‘Hadestown’ (a retelling of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice set in the Great Depression). The song has taken on a whole new contemporary resonance with Donald Trump’s vow to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Billy first began covering the song on his 2016 ‘Shine A Light’ tour with Joe Henry. ‘Why We Build The Wall’ follows hot on the heels of Billy’s previous single releases ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’ and ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, which were released in July and August respectively, and have gone down a storm on his recent live shows.

    Says Billy: "I first heard Anais Mitchell sing ‘Why We Build The Wall’ at Occupy London in November 2011, standing on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. The power of the lyrics struck me then and, in the intervening years, the song has become even more powerful as the mass movement of people from Africa and Asia into Europe, North America and Australia has forced migration onto the political agenda.   In 2016, matters came to a head when anti-immigrant sentiment was identified as a prime mover in Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump was elected president after promising to build a wall along the Mexican border. In the coming years, driven by climatic changes in their home countries, more and more people are going to be on the move, looking for a better life for their families. Our children and our grandchildren will judge us on our response to those who come to our door looking for shelter."

    Billy Bragg will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    Saffiyah Smiles


    "Following the shocking scenes of white supremacists marching through the streets of Charlottesville this past summer, my mind went back to an image of a young woman facing down a ranting fascist with nothing but a serene smile. Saffiyah Khan had been taking part in a counter demonstration against the neo-fascist English Defence League in Birmingham, England, in April this year when she saw a woman being surrounded by taunting EDL supporters.

    Saira Zafar had been verbally opposing the racists and a number of them had left the demo to turn on her. When the police struggled to protect her, Saffiyah stepped up and got in the face of the loudest aggressor, holding him at bay with nothing more than a smile until police intervened. A press photographer captured the moment and the picture went viral. Local Labour MP Jess Phillips memorably tweeted the image with the caption “Who looks like they have the power here?

    Saffiyah Khan’s selfless act of solidarity is an inspiration to us all and a reminder that sometimes you can confront hatred by calmly making plain how ridiculous its propagators are."

    Billy Bragg

    Thank you to the artists who kindly donated their work to the making of the Saffiyah Smiles video:

    Jordi Calvís i Burgués, Inès' Art, Christina Tsevis, Arkaitz González, Samira Idroos & Dan Simmonds


    Briges Not Walls

    Billy says of ‘Bridges Not Walls’: “Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so in an effort to keep pace with these chaotic times I decided to start dropping tracks as they became ready across the summer culminating in a mini album. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on. And there's been a lot going on.”

    Billy also release ‘Full English Brexit’ on November 3rd 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label. The song is an elegant piano ballad that characterises the attitudes of an all too familiar ageing Little Englander.

    Watch the video for the single here.


    FULL ENGLISH BREXIT


    “We live in divisive times. Brexit has split the country into separate camps, who seem only able to respond to one another with, at best, indifference and, at worse, outright abuse. How can we overcome our hostility and start rebuilding a society at ease with itself?

    I believe musicians have a role to play in this process. Music has the ability to make you see things from another perspective, to feel for the plight of someone you have never met, in whose situation you have never found yourself. This isn’t just a political thing. A good love song can have the same effect, allowing you to access feelings that you may not have experienced in your own life. The very currency of music is empathy.

    The ability of music to help make such connections is even more important during these divisive times. Brexit and the election of Donald Trump are manifestations of the failure to build a society that works for everyone. Both offer answers, but only to their own supporters.

    I believe that if we are to overcome the mistrust and disdain that has divided us, to take the first steps towards building that inclusive society that reflects both the traditions and diversity of our country, we need to have some understanding about where our opponents are coming from. My new song,‘Full English Brexit’ was written in that spirit.”

    Billy Bragg


    NOT EVERYTHING THAT COUNTS CAN BE COUNTED


    Video Placeholder

    "Around five years ago, I was waiting in the wings of a lunch time tv programme, waiting to take part in a discussion about democratic reform of the House of Lords. A minister in David Cameron’s Tory government was on air and responded to a question about whether he was going to increase child benefit by saying “We’ll have to see what the bond markets think about that”. Later we both left the studio in the same lift and, in a terse exchange of opinions, I pointed out to him that he was elected to represent his constituents, not the bond markets.

    His statement was a shocking example of what many refer to as neo-liberalism: the belief that, when it comes to policy decisions, the market always knows best. This, along with the idea that there is simply no alternative way to run an economy, has allowed governments on both sides of the Atlantic to avoid responsibility for their policy decisions. They hold that the market is like the weather, something that just happens and there is nothing that we can do about it. The fact that the government has been giving free money to the banks in the form of quantitative easing since 2008 reveals that, whatever the neo-liberals might believe, a functioning economy still relies on policy decisions taken by politicians.

    Now, in a disturbing development, some politicians are applying the same standards to facts. A free market in truth has emerged, in which the most popular version of events is taken as gospel by the faithful and defended to the death with spurious arguments and a distracting chaff of whataboutery.”

    Billy Bragg