Friday, December 21, 2007

How Maggie helped Billy

There was something odd in the Guardian yesterday:

Billy Bragg would have had to work hard to succeed in any era, and especially in the 1980s, when his socialist politics and punk antecedents were deeply unfashionable.

Especially in the 1980s? No, no, no. For political music to succeed, it has to be part of the opposition, the resistance, the counterculture. I can’t think of a better decade for a socialist, working-class musician to have been working in than one in which a right-wing government was gutting industry and sending unemployment and poverty soaring.

Songs of protest can catch on. Songs of government support? No. I had my iPod on shuffle as I walked in to work this morning and Billy’s ‘There is Power in a Union’ popped up. Far from his best, and more than a tad dated, but still utterly electrifying.

1 comment:

Paulie said...

I saw that as well.

It seems that - if you write in the comment pages of the Guardian - this is a required delusion. That saying something fashionable, or spouting elegant cant, is somehow brave and noble.

You also have to cultivate the myth of censorship. That somehow, there is a price to be paid in career / monetary terms when you sock it to the man.

Everyone has their own explanation for why the liberal-left largely comprises of useless fruitcakes, but this is pretty close to being my version.