I don’t have a lot to say today in response to the fatal shooting at a Quebec mosque last night, or to all the evil policies coming out of the office of He Who Must Not Be Named in Washington. But somehow this Billy Bragg song (based on some words of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke) seemed appropriate. This song can be found on Billy’s brilliant album ‘Tooth and Nail‘.
There have been a lot of people on Facebook recently sharing albums that shaped them when they were teenagers, which is quite interesting. I thought I’d also like to share my current ‘Top Twenty’ – in alphabetical order by artist surname, with the proviso that I will not let myself pick more than one album per artist. These albums are by the artists I currently play the most and consider essential to my musical well-being and inspiration.
- Nicola Benedetti: ‘Vaughan Williams/Taverner’
- Billy Bragg: ‘Tooth and Nail’
- Anne Briggs: ‘A Collection’
- Matthew Byrne: ‘Hearts and Heroes’
- Martin Carthy: ‘Martin Carthy’
- Bruce Cockburn: ‘Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws’
- Maria Dunn: ‘Gathering’
- James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters & Lucy Ward: ‘The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’
- Genticorum: ‘La Bibournoise’
- Nic Jones: ‘Penguin Eggs’
- Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Philip Ledger: ‘Orlando Gibbons: Tudor Church Music’
- Mark Knopfler: ‘The Ragpicker’s Dream’
- London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis: ‘Handel’s Messiah’
- Maddy Prior: ‘Seven for Old England’
- Jean Ritchie & Doc Watson: ‘At Folk City’
- Red Tail Ring: ‘Mountain Shout’
- Stan Rogers: ‘Northwest Passage’
- Kate Rusby: ‘Ten’
- Martin Simpson: ‘Kind Letters’
- Sting: ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’
Anyone else like to share their top twenty?
Yes, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Bard of Barking. Here’s Billy Bragg doing his own version of Americana and doing it so well.
This is an audio recording of Billy Bragg singing his adaptation of a poem by Thomas Hardy, ‘The Man He Killed’, at the Left Field Stage at the recent Glastonbury Festival. I reproduce the original poem below so that you can see the little changes Billy has made to fit the poem to the tune he chose, which is the old folk song ‘The Snow it Melts the Soonest’.
Billy and the Left Field performers were doing songs like this to honour the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914, the event that proved to be the catalyst for the start of the Great War.
The Man He Killed
This is one of Billy’s most poignant songs. It appeared on his 1984 album ‘Brewing Up With Billy Bragg’, but this, of course, is a recent version of it.
Billy’s website is here.
It’s always time for my favourite contemporary songwriter, the bloke himself, Mr. Billy Bragg.
Billy Bragg and his band perform ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ as part of their sound check at the Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on 3rd October 2013.