Between The Wars

“I don’t think it would have been so effective if it had just been purely about the politics and economics of that period. It’s that man trying to keep his family together, keeping the faith, keeping voting and things not happening the way he wants. It’s more possible to identify with him as an individual, rather than just as a general precis of the economic situation of the mid-80s.”Billy Bragg (36)

Valentine’s Day Is Over

“At the Vancouver Folk Festival one year I got into an argument with a woman about “Valentine’s Day Is Over”. Their argument was, I would never know what it was like to be the victim of male violence. I totally agreed but said “I’m not writing this song for other women. I’m writing this for other men, as a man saying, “This is not acceptable,” so that other men will hear this and think, “What is going on in this song is not right”.”Billy Bragg (36)
“People know “I Keep Faith” is about Juliet; a love song for the person I love, but at the same time it’s a call to arms. That’s my idea of a good song, it can do both jobs. The best songs are the ones that are both political and personal. “Brutality and the economy are related now, I understand” is a prime example from “Valentine’s Day Is Over”, in which the economic situation is shaping their relationship in a negative sense. It’s about being unemployed and the pressure that we are put under: the bailiffs coming round; having to travel and look for work. But the thing about songs is people have their own meanings and you can’t disavow them; it’s as valid as mine.”Billy Bragg (37)

Tank Park Salute

“Before I wrote that song I had never spoken to anybody about my father dying, not even my brother. I wrote that line “I closed my eyes and when I looked your name was in the memorial book.” It opened a floodgate and there it all was.”Billy Bragg (38)

A New England

“”I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song. I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long.” A line taken from Paul Simon’s “Leaves That Are Green.” I wanted people to know that I was a fan of Paul Simon. I was 22 when I wrote that song. It was exactly where I was. I was living in more or less a squat in East Northamptonshire, walked back from the pub, looked up and saw two satellites flying over side by side, came home with the metaphor and wrote A New England around it.”Billy Bragg (39)

No One Knows Nothing Anymore

“This song searches for both redemption but also addresses the ambiguity of the 21st century.”Billy Bragg (40)

Handyman Blues

“This song addresses the struggle not just to change the world but, equally importantly, to maintain relationships with the people we love, particularly long term relationships with their ups and downs.”Billy Bragg (40)

There Will Be A Reckoning

“These people never go away and each generation has to find a way to fight against the racists, the sexists, the homophobes, those who will divide us. We fight by working together and remembering that it’s our culture that allows us to work together, cross-borders, cross-genders, cross-politics. This song is straight off the streets of Barking and looks at this issue, how to deal with people who come knocking on your doors trying to divide you against your neighbours – where the mainstream political parties seem to have let you down.”Billy Bragg (40)

England, Half English

“What does it mean when I say, ‘I am an Englishman’? The album’s title comes from a book of essays by Colin MacInnes. MacInnes wrote the novel Absolute Beginners, which was turned into a movie [with Ray Davies and David Bowie in 1986- Ed]. When the movie came out, they reissued England, Half-English, and when I read it, it struck me that he was on to something. He was English but he had grown up in Australia. Like most outsiders, when he finally came to England, he could see everything more clearly. He was the first to point out that we were becoming a multi-cultural society. He went to one of the first English rock’n’roll shows and saw all these English teenagers acting in a very non-English way. They were having a good time, dancing to this white English singer singing like an American. He realized that this new generation could get its culture from anywhere; it didn’t have to just accept what they inherited from their parents. He saw that that was very important.”Billy Bragg (607)


“Life isn’t all earnest. Imagine how boring that would be. I’m trying to take those symbols of Englishness-like St. George, who actually comes from Lebanon, and the British lion, which actually comes from Africa – and point out that they’re not very English at all. I wanted to bring attention to that without being very serious.”Billy Bragg (607)

Levi Stubb’s Tears

“I was trying to write a song about the redemptive power of soul music, about how a song can be really important to someone.”Billy Bragg (608)