A Punter’s Perspective #37 – Billy Bragg interview

Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#37 Billy Bragg interview

First published on the Timber and Steel blog on 12 September 2012
Second published in Trad and Now magazine, September 2012

Recorded in the studios of Community Broadcasting Association of Australia member station 2XX-FM, Canberra on Friday 7 September 2012

Getting this interview was in some ways a 25 year odyssey, in other ways a two-year process, and in yet another, a 17 day exchange of emails.

More of that elsewhere because as I expected, Billy Bragg was his charming, effusive, generous, articulate and engaging self for 21 minutes. We’d still be chatting had we not gotten the wind-up.

But on a clear, crisp early Spring Friday night in Canberra, and god knows where Billy was – I never did find out – two Bills had a chat about music, assumptions (grr!), death, life, the moon, first words, and giving the punters what they want.

Now if reading great swathes of text is not your thang, do here undereth clicketh:

Bill Quinn: He’s coming to Australia in a couple of months’ time but we have him here telephonically; it’s hello and welcome, Billy Bragg.

Billy Bragg: ‘ey, Bill. ‘ow are you?

[I’ll eschew the phonetics from here on, but even just these five words made me smile.]

BQ: Billy, I’m going to start and finish with a slightly clichéd question, and in between, we’ll see where we go.

Your signature song is “Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards” which is a bit like a snowflake, never the same thing twice, always evolving and grabbing the zeitgeist. In 2012, are you just a little bit spoilt for choice with subject matter for that song?

BB: Heh! Unfortunately I am, yeah.

That’s the problem with being a topical songwriter; sometimes things just keep popping up, y’know? I’ve got a week or so in New Zealand before I get to Australia. I hope I’ll be able to zone in a little on what’s happening in Australia. And see if I can shape some of the lyrics of “Great Leap Forwards”.

I mean, some of the verses are universal, but one or two of them are specifically about the UK. Maybe I might just be able to Australianise them if possible.

I’ll see what I can do!

Billy Bragg, Hamer Hall, Melbourne. 19 October 2012.
Billy Bragg, Melbourne Recital Hall, Melbourne. 20 October 2012.

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