The Sunday Shuffle

The Price I Pay – Billy Bragg (1988, Go! Discs Records, Taken from ‘Workers Playtime’)

Today’s shuffle comes courtesy of my iPod Classic which is now roughly 11 years old and constantly needs charging just to keep it going. If it was a dog it would have ‘wandered off in the woods’ about two years. I am however, very fond of it and I like to think that somewhere in its inanimate soul it is really pleased that I still ask it to shuffle the 18,000 or so songs that sit inside it, even if it does mean the iPod equivalent of a coughing fit straight afterwards.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and Mark Steel, a very funny comedian was talking about his love of Billy Bragg – now I know what you are thinking, left wing comedian heavily influenced by left wing singer, how very obvious. However, Steel was saying actually Billy Bragg wrote very few overtly political songs, and what often gets ignored is the simple fact that Billy Bragg writes wonderful lyrics about life, love and what matters to him. Yes he stands up for the down trodden but deep down he is a big old softy.

Steel used ‘Workers Playtime’ as his prime example (he also used the song ‘A New England‘ as well), it is an album he claims that dispenses with the tubthumping and the rabble rousing and concentrates more on romance. He also said that maybe Billy didn’t want to alienate his political fans, so at the last minute, stuck a picture of a communist march on the sleeve – just to keep the comrades happy.

‘The Price I Pay’ is perhaps one of the most obvious ballads on this album, its a sorrowful piano led affair about love and rejection and contains lyrics such as “There’s something inside that hurts my foolish pride/ To visit the places we used to go together/ Not a day goes by that I don’t sit and wonder why/ Your feelings for me didn’t last forever“ – which is just lovely.

1 Comment

  1. JC says:

    “Billy Bragg writes wonderful lyrics about life, love and what matters to him.”

    Which is precisely why I have never got bored with him at any point, although a couple of the more recent albums have not been anything like as magnificent as the earlier material.

    If you get a chance to read Andrew Collins’ biography of BB, the period around the writing, recording and release of ‘Workers Playtime’ is quite revealing….even pop stars suffer emotional turmoil.


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