Billy Bragg sings about relationships and activism
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 11:00p.m.
By Ali Ikram
Billy Bragg is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, whether it's singing about his relationships or 30 years of activism.
He is touring the country starting with the Auckland Town Hall tomorrow night.
Bragg says he finds New Zealand hard to tour at times and was quoted in Q magazine as not enjoying Dunedin.
"I had to smile when I read Keith Richards’ claim that Dunedin was the most depressing place on Earth. I've been there three times in my career and on each one of those visits, I've had a similar experience to Keith.”
But he apparently likes the rest of the country.
“I love it but there is something about Dunedin. Only when I read Keith’s book did I see that it's physically the furthest city from London in the world.”
Bragg sang a song by Woody Guthrie about his son wetting the bed.
He, along with US band Wilco is finishing the icon folk singers unfinished songs, painting a broader picture of Guthrie, beyond his politics.
“Woody Guthrie in his lifetime wrote 3000 songs and those 3000 songs were written in a 15-year window. He was writing four or five songs a day, can you imagine what he would have been like if he got hold of Twitter, it would be ‘perchung bang there's another one’.”
Bragg has at times suffered a similar fate to his hero. Some of his most beautiful work must fight its way out from the stand cast by his activism.
“I write more personal songs than I write political songs,” he says. “People most know me for my political songs and I’m cool with that I don't have a problem with that but I have a problem with people dismissing me as a political song writer who don't come to my gig and never listen to my records.”
And even now with activists using social media more and more to spread the word, Bragg says there will always be a place for music.
And he likes the touring lifestyle.
“Tour the world, have interesting sex and you don't have to get up in the morning and you're 18 and the alternative is to work in a car factory in Dagenham.”
And as he says no one invites you to Auckland to read your Tweets in the Town Hall, or sleeps with you because you write great Facebook updates.
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