Billy's my man ... has been for a long time, no doubt about that.
Oh God, mid 80's, listening to one of my favourite albums of all time (I think): 'Worker's Playtime'. For me, it goes the distance, unlike other previous faves like Sade's 'Diamond Life' or Tracy Chapman; Joan Armatrading or Madonna (oops, sorry, did I just admit I like Madonna's music - you had to be there!)
I'd come home after work or even sometimes just walking around Adelaide, I'd 'play' 'Worker's Playtime' on a loop, in my head. No iPods or iPhones or MP3s then. Yep, Billy's my man.
Not for him, the dope smoking ways that were Bob Marley and the Wailers (not in his music, at any rate) or the antics that were Midnight Oil.
He's coming to town!
October 31st, Bill will perform to the multitudes at Adelaide Town Hall.
Bill will be here as part of the 2012 Melbourne Festival - this, his 'Aint nobody that can sing like me' Australian Tour, will feature concerts in: Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Stephen William Bragg the musical statesman, more commonly known as 'Billy Bragg' and recently described by The London Times as a 'national treasure', will be sticking around in Australia, long enough to play this 6 stop national tour.
As when I listened ardently to his music, Billy's mainly known for his music about political and social unrest, however, much, is also born from his own personal experience, as you would expect. Sorry, can't run with, Bill, quite yet, sorry Bill, if that's what you prefer, but you will just always be Billy to me.
Billy himself has said: "I write about the things that make me angry: sometimes it's the government, sometimes it's the girl", he explained.
For this national tour, as for the Melbourne Festival, Billy Bragg will delve both into his own long, musical and political career, spanning 30 years, as well as drawing on a long time love for the prolific folk music of Woody Guthrie, whose 100th birthday would have taken place this year; Billy will pay homage to his centennial.
His complete sessions has just been released, including Mermaid Avenue Vol. III. The critically acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums were the result of a wealth of previously unrecorded lyrics of Woody Guthries, which had been discovered after his death, by his daughter, Nora. Bragg developed a special connection to Woody Guthrie's music, when he and Wilco set the lyrics to music and recorded them for the Mermaid Avenue albums. Billy, the original folk punker jammed together with Americana new wavers Wilco, to put these previously unrecorded lyrics to music. The pair of albums released from these sessions, one in 1998 and the other in 2000, the Mermaid Avenue albums, were the result of this fine collaboration, and were the crafting of 'some of the best work of either act's careers at the time.'
Billy looks older. Don't we all? His music, however, stands the test of time and remains ageless to those of us ageing liberals or baby boomer bohemians. He's hot and he rocks, has since he started. I'm not inspired by Billy's music, I just think it's plain good and, I get where he's coming from; he's doing what he's singing about, that is, such as in initiatives like 'Jail Guitar Doors', which endeavours to provide musical instruments for the rehabilitation of prison inmates.
Billy Bragg performing at South by SouthWest in 2008
I paid $85 to listen to BB not to be preached to for hours. I felt cheated by the end of the concert in Adelaide if I wanted a lecture on socialism I'd have gone to a Labor party meeting but this time round BB used his pulpit to a captive audience like it or not. More singing, less talking next time (if I bother) Mr BB