billy bragg

There is Power in a Union
the Mountain Goats / Billy Bragg
There is Power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a Union.

“All You Fascists” by Billy Bragg and Wilco (written by Woodie Guthrie)

I’m gonna tell all you fascists, you may be surprised
People all over this world are getting organized
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us, this one thing I know
Poll tax and Jim Crow and greed have got to go
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

All you fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You’re bound to lose, you fascists
Are bound to lose

People of every color marching side by side
Marching across these fields where a million fascists died
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

*****

I’m going into this battle, take my union gun
Gonna end this world of slavery before this war is won
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose 

Billy Bragg On Skiffle, The Movement That Brought Guitar To British Radio

It’s hard to believe, but before the 1950s, guitars were rarely heard in British music. Billy Bragg says the first guitars to hit the British pop scene came as a part of skiffle, a musical movement inspired by African-American roots musicians.

Bragg, who’s written a book on skiffle called Roots, Radicals And Rockers, describes the genre as “a bunch of British school boys in the mid-‘50s playing Lead Belly’s repertoire… on acoustic guitars.”

One of the most pivotal performances was Lonnie Donegan’s 1954 cover of Lead Belly’s “Rock Island Line,” which Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin later described as a song that changed his life. But Bragg notes that the entire genre was transformative in that it opened the door for The Beatles, Van Morrison and other Brit rock bands that followed.

The Internationale
Billy Bragg
The Internationale

Stand up, all victims of oppression
For the tyrants fear your might
Don’t cling so hard to your possessions
For you have nothing, if you have no rights
Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all

So come brothers and sisters
For the struggle carries on
The Internationale
Unites the world in song
So comrades come rally
For this is the time and place
The international ideal
Unites the human race

Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone 
In our world poisoned by exploitation
Those who have taken, now they must give
And end the vanity of nations
We’ve but one Earth on which to live

And so begins the final drama
In the streets and in the fields
We stand unbowed before their armour
We defy their guns and shields
When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by life and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above

Greetings to the New Brunette
Billy Bragg
Greetings to the New Brunette

How many ways is this brilliant? Kirsty MacColl vocals, the electric guitar by Johnny Marr, the amazing lyrics, it’s just an epic perfect work.

Shirley,
It’s quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
Shirley,
You’re my reason to get out of bed before noon
Shirley,
You know when we sat out on the fire escape talking
Shirley,
What did you say about running before we were walking

Sometimes when we’re as close as this
It’s like we’re in a dream
How can you lie there and think of england
When you don’t even know who’s in the team

Shirley,
Your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
Shirley,
We are joined in the ideological cuddle

I’m celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven’t noticed yet
I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet

Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how i love those evening classes

Shirley,
You really know how to make a young man angry
Shirley,
Can we get through the night without mentioning family

The people from your church agree
It’s not much of a career
Trying the handles of parked cars
Whoops, there goes another year
Whoops, there goes another pint of beer

Here we are in our summer years
Living on icecream and chocolate kisses
Would the leaves fall from the trees
If i was your old man and you were my missus

Shirley,
Give my greetings to the new brunette

Top 10 British protest and political songs

1. Jarvis Cocker – Running the World (2006)
Originally written about Blair and Bush, I think this is more appropriate now than it ever has been.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deiWnZK-duM

 

2. Billy Bragg – Never Cross a Picket Line (1990)
You can’t have a list of the best political and protest songs without the king of political music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojPTz4VAOMA

 

3. Lily Allen – Hard Out Here (2014)
Lily Allen manages to reference body image, double standards, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and the glass ceiling all in one song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0CazRHB0so

 

4. The Jam – Eton Riffles (1979)
We still have old Etonians running the country, including the Prime Minister and Mayor of London. Apparently David Cameron is a fan of this song, to Paul Weller’s dismay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJRmrlkYdsQ

5. Pulp – Cocaine Socialism (1998)
Jarvis Cocker wrote Cocaine Socialism after being contacted by one of Blair’s minions during the 1997 general election campaign begging for his support, to try and make Blair look cool. An angry Jarvis Cocker wrote this in response.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=929BN_zFFR0

6. Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
In 2009, it was discovered that the song was used on the website of the British National Party as the soundtrack of an article describing “the violence, hatred, fragmentation and despair” wrought on London by the “great multicultural experiment”. Obviously the Irony was lost on them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8szNPgrEs

 

7. Lily Allen – Fuck You (2009)
Her opinions on the British National Party are made pretty clear, she did also once dedicate it to the FIFA President.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFE6qQ3ySXE

 

8. Frank Turner – Thatcher Fucked The Kids (2006)
Turner actually regrets writing this saying “I regret writing the song simply because I started getting a lot of people coming to my shows who didn’t give two shits about my music. I’d just said something they agreed with. There’s a fair amount of analysis in that song that I would 100% stand by, but writing that was almost dipping a toe into the world of being a protest singer. I tried it, I really didn’t like it, and so I did something else with my life.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1NyWbhCxZE

9. Pulp – Common People (1995)
Although being one of the most famous songs of the 1990s, Common People never actually made it to number 1 unfortunately. Should have done though.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTMWgOduFM

10. Plan B – Ill Manors (2012)
Ill Manors was written as a response to 2011’s riots and “society’s failure to nurture its disadvantaged youth.” The Guardian described Ill Manors as “the first great mainstream protest song in years.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8GvLKTsTuI

A lot of men are acting with hostility towards the current wave of feminism because they can’t tell the difference between a personal accusation of sexism and a structural critique of the way sexism is endemic in our culture
—  Billy Bragg