mayor curley is the milkman of human kindness for pointing you to these
March 15, 2005 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Billy Bragg videos from 1991 I'm not much one for music videos, but Billy's "Sexuality" with Kirsty MacColl was one of my favorites back in the day. Sometime in the late 90's, I just assumed I'd never see it again. But ask and the Internet provides. There is also "You Woke Up My Neighborhood," with Peter Buck and Michael Stipe. I hadn't seen that one before, but it's wonderful, too.

Also enjoy a greyer Billy playing at a fairly recent Strummerville benefit. first link may be dodgy in firefox. Worked once for me but not on subsequent viewings.
posted by Mayor Curley (35 comments total)
Thanks Mayor, you are the Milkman of human kindness!
posted by Quartermass at 12:38 PM on March 15, 2005

Dont know a lot of Billy Bragg but love the lines

He looks like Robert DeNiro,
He drivers a Mitsubishi Zero.

posted by kenaman at 12:41 PM on March 15, 2005

I'd try Googling the alternate lyrics to "Beastiality", but odds are I'd be fired before I found them.
posted by yerfatma at 12:57 PM on March 15, 2005

You put me on a pedestal, I put you on the pill.

Billy Bragg is God. And I mean that from the bottom of my Socialist heart.
posted by veedubya at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2005

Thanks for the link; I've been a Billy Bragg fan for ages but I'd never seen one of his videos. "Sexuality" was cute and fun.I liked how the car said Billy and Shirley. "You Woke Up My Neighborhood" wouldn't work for me, though.

Between 'Marx' and 'marzipan' in the dictionary/There was Mary
posted by kirkaracha at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2005

I loved the words you wrote to me
But that was bloody yesterday
I can’t survive on what you send
Every time you need a friend

I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
Is it wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care

I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new england
I’m just looking for another girl

What veedubya said.
posted by drpynchon at 2:41 PM on March 15, 2005

When I saw Billy a couple of years back, he changed the DeNiro/Mitsubishi zero line to something like:

I might be like Arnold Schwarzenegger/
If I were dumber, and bigger

posted by jeffmshaw at 3:34 PM on March 15, 2005

I haven't heard that song in ages! thank you, Mayor! : >

(I love love love him!--her too!)
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on March 15, 2005

I'd never heard of that, let alone seen it. It ruled. Thanks for the link.

Oh, and fwiw, Alternate lyrics...
I've had relations
With hamsters and dalmatians
I've made passes
At donkeys of all classes...

posted by Wolfdog at 3:48 PM on March 15, 2005

oh, and he reminds me of our very own Sgt. in that video too : >
posted by amberglow at 3:48 PM on March 15, 2005

Is that Phil Jupitus in the Sexuality video?
posted by armoured-ant at 3:50 PM on March 15, 2005

I’m gonna tell all you fascists you may be surprised
The people in this world are getting organized
You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us this one thing I know
Your poll tax and jim crow and greed have got to go
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

All of you fascists bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose
All of you fascists bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose
You’re bound to lose! you fascists!
Bound to lose

People of every colour marching side by side
Marching ’cross these fields where a million fascists died
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

I’m going into this battle, and take my union gun
We’ll end this world of slavery before this battle’s won
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

posted by matteo at 4:01 PM on March 15, 2005

matteo, that may be favorite track from the Billy Bragg/Wilco/Woody Guthrie experience. Also, I'm shocked no one has mentioned Upfield.

The angels asked me how I felt about all I'd seen and heard
That they spoke to me, a pagan, gave me cause to doubt their word
But they laughed and said: "I doesn't matter if you'll help us in our art
You've got a socialism of the heart, you've got a socialism of the heart"

posted by jeffmshaw at 4:09 PM on March 15, 2005

She said it was just a figment of speech
And I said you mean 'figure'
And she said no 'figment' because she could never imagine it happening
But it did

When we first met, I played the shy-boy
When she spoke to me for the first time, my nose began to bleed
She guessed the rest
The next day we went on a bus ride to the ferry
And when nobody came to collect our fares, why I knew then this was something special

I couldn't stop thinking about her
And everytime I switched on the radio, there was somebody else singing a song about the two of us
It was just like being on a fast ride at Fun Fair- the sort you want to get off because it's scary and then, as soon as you're off again, you want to get straight back on again

But oh love is strange
And you have to learn to take the crunchy with the smooth I suppose

She began going out with Mr. Potato Head
It was when I saw her in the car park with his coat around her shoulders I realized
I went home and thought about the two of them together until the bath water went cold around me
I thought about her eyes and the curve of her breasts and about the point where their bodies met

I confronted her about it
I said 'I'm the most illegible bachelor in town'
And she said 'Yea, that's why I can never understand any of those silly letters you send me'

And then one day it happened
She cut her hair
And I stopped loving her.
posted by turaho at 4:28 PM on March 15, 2005

Jeez. I was 21 years when I heard that song...
posted by seanyboy at 4:35 PM on March 15, 2005

on that official site, the links roundup may be of interest, such as this collection of tabs and chording instructions assembled by a fan, now departed. It uses popups, but they include chord diagrams. I was charmed when I found the site several years ago.
posted by mwhybark at 5:19 PM on March 15, 2005

Thanks all the same
But I cannot bring myself to answer your letters
It's not your fault
But your honesty touches me like a fire
The polaroids that keep us together
Will surely fade away
Like the love that we spoke of forever
On Saint Swithin's Day

(the Dubstar version is the definitive one)

posted by gdav at 5:41 PM on March 15, 2005

Billy is indeed god (a distinction he shares with Bob Mould and a few other luminaries of my generation), but Sexuality was when he jumped the shark for me. Haven't heard anything I really liked by him in a long time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2005

gdav stole my verse. Wah.
Number two would have to be "Levi Stubbs Tears", although I find myself singing "Great leap forwards" more often these days. Something tells me you could easily swap 'blogger' for 'fanzine' in the lyrics

And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses.

The Revolution is truly just a t-shirt away.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 5:56 PM on March 15, 2005

I was 21 years when I heard that song

Billy Bragg or Paul Simon?
posted by yerfatma at 6:15 PM on March 15, 2005

I find myself singing "Great leap forwards" more often these days. Something tells me you could easily swap 'blogger' for 'fanzine' in the lyrics

See my profile page, TomSophieIvy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:38 PM on March 15, 2005

Required listening for Billy Bragg fans and anyone else who saw fit to read this far in the thread. Hit the "next" button and choose Great Leap Forwards from the song menu at the bottom.

As sung:
Donald Rumsfeld's brother spies a rich lady who's cryin'
over luxury's disapointment,
so he walks over and he's tryin'
to sympathize with her, but he thinks that he should warn her
that the B-52's are flyin'.

In the former Soviet Union, the citizen's demand
to know why their still the target of strategic air command
and they shake their fists in anger
and respectfully suggest
we take the money from our missiles and spend it on our hospitals instead.

Cold War is over, and the stakes are gettin' higher,
so frightened of collateral damage and of friendly fire,
and I don't believe we can defeat no Axis of Evil
but putting smart bombs in the hands of dumb people.

(Original lyrics).
posted by rafter at 6:48 PM on March 15, 2005

Great heads up MayorCurley.

I'm not going to watch these videos, but I want to share my Billy Bragg experience: I don't know what possessed my ignorant fifteen year old self to buy "Don't Try This at Home" except that my record store had a used vinyl copy of "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry," which struck me as the coolest record title ever and I didn't own a record player. I had the cassette which is now long gone, but I still can rattle through all those songs and my attached memories: shoveling snow among a carnival of carnivores, sitting in a cold basement imagining me and lee in san francisco etc. etc. But the album became an insular bubble inside my childhood, I knew that my friends wouldn't like the hootnanny and the ballads and it was a little too homo friendly ("Just because you're gay, I won't turn you away, if you stick around, I'm sure that we can find some common ground"). I think the next album I bought was by Nirvana. Years later I saw a used cd copy that I snatched up--amazingly all the songs were still fresh and I will stand up and fight with the man who laughs when I say that this is a classic album.

I never got into Billy much beyond that album except for the "Everybody Loves You Babe" track on William Bloke which is a great bit of tragic assholery, (The Mermaid Ave stuff seemed a little too forced, but there's a Corey Harris gem that's overlooked). I still like the Idea of Billy Bragg even if he's a socialist. and gay.

Anyway, it's now nearly fifteen years later and it's nice to see that one of my childhood culture bearers is now on Rhino records, which means that I'll go sit in my armchair now and do word counts until you tell me it's time for bed.
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:19 PM on March 15, 2005

OK, this thread has got me lovin' my fellow mefites. I've been a huge fan of Uncle Bill since 1986 and fellow travellers have been few and far between.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:28 PM on March 15, 2005

Little Time Bomb:
One of them's off her food
And the other one's off his head
And both of them are off down the boozer
To drink a toast
To the one that he hates most
And she says, "There are no winners. Only losers"

"Well if there are no winners, than what is this?" he thinks.
As he watches her complete a lap of honor
Then he sits in the stands with his head in his hands
And he thinks of all the things he'd like to bring down upon her.
My dad died in 1993, and Tank Park Salute always reminds me of him:
You were so tall
How could you fall?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2005

Don't forget his much improved translation of the Internationale [compare original]. Almost makes me want to be a Socialist all over again!
posted by dhartung at 7:43 PM on March 15, 2005

just another flashback: it's 1985, I'm in the Army, and a dear friend sent a tape of Billy b/w the Smiths. That and the recently released "Unforgettable Fire" were all I listened to months. (the tape was aptly named 'bop while you bomb')
Stavros, once again your foresight is to be commended!
greasy_skillet, does Billy's wife know he's gay?
The last time I saw Billy, he was plugging the local "Janitors for Justice" movement and talking fair wages on a real and local level. Anyone have a copy of the Redskins covering Billy from the Red Wedge tour?
posted by TomSophieIvy at 7:44 PM on March 15, 2005

Excellent link, btw, rafter. Thanks!
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:07 PM on March 15, 2005

So why'd he change the pronunciation/accent he sang in after 'Worker's Playtime'? I could never get over that change.
posted by gubo at 8:38 PM on March 15, 2005

Still very clearly remember being in a crowd at Glasgows Pavilion theater when Billy tried to stop the crowd from drowning out "New Englands" main title with "New Scotland". He gave up not long in to the singing. A magic night. You fight the good fights, not every fight :-)
posted by stuartmm at 10:14 PM on March 15, 2005

Bravo greasy_skillet and TomSophieIvy. But can I get something off my chest? In "You Woke Up my Neighbourhood" he sings with an American accent yet a line is "Every now and then we'd have a row". Love the song and it's always bugged me.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:03 AM on March 16, 2005

Billy put on American accents here and there in Don't Try This At Home, including his awesome cover of Everywhere (which actually got me a little misty when it came up on random play on my iPod the other day). And a lot of Mermaid Avenue includes similar attempts, but for the most part, I think he works hard at keeping the Cockney in his singing voice.

He's a true geezer. Like a hell of a lot of people, I've had the chance to meet him after shows and chat a bit, and he's always been a genuinely nice, engaged guy.
posted by maudlin at 5:50 AM on March 16, 2005

I can't believe someone would point out The Internationale, and not mention the best song on that disc, The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions,

We're making the world safe for capitalism
posted by nomisxid at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2005

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