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Thursday, February 24, 2011

People I Admire: Billy Bragg

Full confession: I never heard Billy Bragg til 1991, and then was only by passing thru our Socialist shipping clerk's office. But in March, 2004 I began a union drive at the store I worked at. There were only a handful of us, and the oddests of the employees, to boot. We never stood a chance, because on the day the union guys had come thru billeting our mailboxes, I literally ran after Mark, our then-Board President saying, "Isn't this great?" like a guileless little fool. They hired DRM, a big union-busting pro law firm, and we were finally squashed in November, 2005.

Anyway, Tim, a dj on our local radio station, played a great Sunday afternoon show called "Worker's Playtime" (after the Billy Bragg, I'd guess) and he played 2 musicians who saved my suffering soul- Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg- every week. He would take requests. Thank you Tim! And that's how I started really looking at Billy and seeing what he's done and stood for, for over 30 years in the public eye. I mean, Billy goes back to the Miner's Strikes in 84. He's been there as long as I have, bitching with his voice and guitar like Woody or any other great folk musician. I guess I was too busy being active to hear much music back then. You only get the music at the bigger events, and we don't have those around here. And when I was in NYC, my schedule was booked weeks ahead. In politics you don't get a lot of time for leisure. You just don't.

So I read up about Billy. There's a lot on Youtube; he's a huge fan and lets anyone post anything. He has a great website that I can't even describe but it's great:

http://www.billybragg.co.uk/

And there are stories upon stories, from a local hate campaign waged against him by some right-winger to his refusal to pay taxes. And that's just the last year. The guy has brass ones. And he's a pretty low-key, straight-up sort. He's hilarious. He says what he thinks, he really cares about his country, he puts his money where his mouth is and he's a damn fine entertainer, on top of it all.

It'd be a dream of mine to have Billy Bragg over for an evening. There I've said it. Let's see if wishes come true.

Meanwhile, here's Billy a while back but always lovely;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf4STTH-bAs

A couple years ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tuQ8wKZrY

And here's Billy last year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17xRTcqhHqU

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