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  • Billy Bragg - Bridges not walls
  • Billy Bragg - Sleep of Reason
  • Billy Bragg - King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood
  • Billy Bragg - King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood
  • Billy Bragg - Saffiyah Smiles
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    The Sleep of Reason


    Now that we’re finding out the true meaning of the Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times!’, Billy Bragg, who has just published his acclaimed book ‘Roots, Radicals & Rockers’, returns to his full-time career as protest singer and will release a new single ‘The Sleep Of Reason’ on July 7th 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label. ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, inspired by a visit to The Prado gallery in Madrid where Billy saw Goya’s etching ‘The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters’, is an impassioned polemical anthem set to a stark buzzsaw melody. Written in response to the events of 2016, it is the first of several songs Billy plans to release over the course of the coming months.

    Says Billy: “Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so I’ve decided to start dropping tracks as they become ready. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on.

    The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is the name of an etching created in 1799 by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The title struck a chord with me when trying to understand the events of last year. The lies and hubris of the Leave campaign in our EU referendum were echoed and amplified by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Only by restoring empathy and reason can we hope to defeat the monstrous forces of nationalism and untruth.”

    Billy Bragg will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood


    Billy Bragg, who has just returned from touring the US, will release a new song ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’ on Aug. 4th 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label.  ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’, a gorgeous alt-country shuffle recorded in Tottenham with pedal steel by C J Hillman, is a wake-up call to those who would deny that global warming is a real and imminent threat. It follows hot on the heels of Billy’s previous single ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, which was released in July and has gone down a storm on his recent live shows.

    Says Billy: “Sunny day flooding is a costal phenomenon in which strong tides cause water to gush up from drains and beneath the ground, swamping basements and inundating roads. Rises in sea level due to melting ice-caps are making it an increasingly common occurrence in Florida, where some residential areas are experiencing it on an almost monthly basis. These communities are canaries in the mine, already living with the stark realities of climate change that some still deny is happening. On a planet the surface of which is 70% water, in which the temperature of oceans drives our weather systems, we will all be affected by global warming unless we act now to limit the damage done."

    Billy Bragg, who is about to play some shows in Europe before returning to tour the US in October, will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    WHY WE BUILD THE WALL


    Billy Bragg, who will play Rivfest in Warrington before heading out to North America for the first leg of his ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour at the end of September, will release a new single ‘Why We Build The Wall’ on Sept 1st 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label.  ‘Why We Build The Wall’ was written by American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell as part of her 2010 ‘folk opera’ ‘Hadestown’ (a retelling of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice set in the Great Depression). The song has taken on a whole new contemporary resonance with Donald Trump’s vow to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Billy first began covering the song on his 2016 ‘Shine A Light’ tour with Joe Henry. ‘Why We Build The Wall’ follows hot on the heels of Billy’s previous single releases ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’ and ‘The Sleep Of Reason’, which were released in July and August respectively, and have gone down a storm on his recent live shows.

    Says Billy: "I first heard Anais Mitchell sing ‘Why We Build The Wall’ at Occupy London in November 2011, standing on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. The power of the lyrics struck me then and, in the intervening years, the song has become even more powerful as the mass movement of people from Africa and Asia into Europe, North America and Australia has forced migration onto the political agenda.   In 2016, matters came to a head when anti-immigrant sentiment was identified as a prime mover in Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump was elected president after promising to build a wall along the Mexican border. In the coming years, driven by climatic changes in their home countries, more and more people are going to be on the move, looking for a better life for their families. Our children and our grandchildren will judge us on our response to those who come to our door looking for shelter."

    Billy Bragg will tour solo and electric in the UK and Europe in November, under the title ‘Bridges Not Walls’.


    Saffiyah Smiles


    "Following the shocking scenes of white supremacists marching through the streets of Charlottesville this past summer, my mind went back to an image of a young woman facing down a ranting fascist with nothing but a serene smile. Saffiyah Khan had been taking part in a counter demonstration against the neo-fascist English Defence League in Birmingham, England, in April this year when she saw a woman being surrounded by taunting EDL supporters.

    Saira Zafar had been verbally opposing the racists and a number of them had left the demo to turn on her. When the police struggled to protect her, Saffiyah stepped up and got in the face of the loudest aggressor, holding him at bay with nothing more than a smile until police intervened. A press photographer captured the moment and the picture went viral. Local Labour MP Jess Phillips memorably tweeted the image with the caption “Who looks like they have the power here?

    Saffiyah Khan’s selfless act of solidarity is an inspiration to us all and a reminder that sometimes you can confront hatred by calmly making plain how ridiculous its propagators are."

    Billy Bragg

    Thank you to the artists who kindly donated their work to the making of the Saffiyah Smiles video:

    Jordi Calvís i Burgués, Inès' Art, Christina Tsevis, Arkaitz González, Samira Idroos & Dan Simmonds


    Briges Not Walls

    On Friday Nov 3rd, the mini album, ‘Bridges Not Walls‘ will be released featuring all of the singles Billy has released over the summer plus two other gems that stand shoulder to shoulder with every song he has written in his 30 year career on the frontline.

    Billy says of ‘Bridges Not Walls’: “Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so in an effort to keep pace with these chaotic times I decided to start dropping tracks as they became ready across the summer culminating in a mini album. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on. And there's been a lot going on.”

    Billy also releases a new single ‘Saffiyah Smiles’ on Oct 6th 2017 on the Cooking Vinyl label. The song is a rousing Hammond-drenched country soul shuffle written by Bragg and was inspired by the bravery of Saffiyah Khan who smiled benignly in the face of the incensed leader of the far right group the English Defence League at an anti-immigrant demonstration in Birmingham (UK) in April ’17; a photo of her action immediately went viral on social media. Watch the video for the single here.