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’.


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’.