-- Google Analytics START --> <-- Google Analytics END -->
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Wednesday, August 27, 2003Bill at a crossroads Billy Bragg held his forefingers together in an 'X' shape before the Greenbelt crowd on Monday, and said, "I knew from the beginning that our paths would cross eventually."
It looked like a benediction but it wasn't: it was an acknowledgement that 'socialism of the heart' and social-justice Christianity share common concerns, around which it's natural for their devotees to come together. So Christian Aid's Trade Justice campaign got Billy to Greenbelt and, in the words of a hardcore BB fan on the Billy Bragg Forum, he was "on absolutely top form".
I think it was the most 'political' set I've heard him play; most of the songs were from that side of his repertoire, designed for a crowd in campaigning, world-changing mood. It brought out the complexity in his work, as even the more intimate songs he chose for Greenbelt, are forged in the heat of social struggle. Because that's how people's lives are: the young woman in 'Levi Stubbs Tears' ran away from home in her mother's best coat / She was married before she was even entitled to vote. Woody Guthrie's 'She Came Along to Me' welcomes the end of male-domination, in society as in the home, as a sign of things to come:
of us are blending
Till I suppose ten million years from now
we'll all be just alike
Same color, same size, working together
And maybe we'll have all of the fascists
out of the way by then
BB's path may have only just crossed with GB's. I've been on both of those paths for many years, both have run parallel for me. In the image Bill presented when he held his fingers together I guess I've always been at the centre, the hub. Which was why Monday night's gig was so special for me.
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
"Sing it with the question-marks," says Bill:
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Amongst these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire.
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.