“I read somewhere that the second most googled thing after pornography is ancestry. People want to know where they come from, why they were born, where they were born. You can get facts from the web, but details are priceless and can often only be learned orally from relatives. Yet too many of us rue the fact that we are left to piece together family stories from fragments we recall because we never asked our elders those questions.”

“I like my albums to finish with a stomper. My son Jack helped me out with this one. That’s him playing electric guitar in the video. He’s a pretty good songwriter himself, and when I played him what I had, he said it’s good but it needs some work. I said well you go and do it then. So he came back and he’d added a middle section and, you know what, he was right. I was really pleased. People have asked if there might be a ‘father and son’ album down the tracks. All I will say is you never know what the future might bring. ‘Ten Mysterious Photos…’ is about life online, both good and bad. I try not to get sucked down too many wormholes, but it can happen.”

It was always my intention to record a new album in 2021. I’d planned to spend most of 2020 on the road, where I could crank out ideas for new songs in soundchecks and maybe even try a few in the live set. Things didn’t quite work out that way, of course. In the past, it has been purely personal issues that have kept me off the road and I’ve sought to come to terms with those events by writing songs that draw the listener’s attention to my individual experience.

The manner in which this pandemic has unfolded is something we’ve never faced before – a universal experience that has impinged on all of our lives. When the first lockdown was declared, I filled the space left by cancelled tours with clips and playlists that made me feel connected to my audience. When hopes of a return to normal were thwarted by the second lockdown in late 2020, I struggled to find the motivation that had driven my response to the first.

Looking for something to focus on, I booked some studio time with Romeo Stodart and Dave Izumi and began pulling songs together for a new album. Twice the dates we booked had to be postponed due to pandemic restrictions, but Romeo and Dave carried on working, creating backing tracks based on the demos I’d sent them. When we were finally able to get together in April this year, they presented me with a different way of making songs, something I found highly engaging after the lost of momentum brought on by the lockdowns.

The Million Things That Never Happened isn’t about the pandemic per se, but the highs and lows of what we’ve been through provide the backdrop for the album, as they have done for all our lives over these past two years.

“To me, I Will Be Your Shield is the heart and soul of the album. I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is the currency of music – that our job as songwriters is to help people come to terms with their feelings by offering them examples of how others may have dealt with a situation similar to that in which listener finds themselves. After what we’ve all been through, the idea of being a shield – physically, emotionally, psychologically – resonated deeply with me.”

It was always my intention to record a new album in 2021. I’d planned to spend most of 2020 on the road, where I could crank out ideas for new songs in soundchecks and maybe even try a few in the live set. Things didn’t quite work out that way, of course. In the past, it has been purely personal issues that have kept me off the road and I’ve sought to come to terms with those events by writing songs that draw the listener’s attention to my individual experience.

The manner in which this pandemic has unfolded is something we’ve never faced before – a universal experience that has impinged on all of our lives. When the first lockdown was declared, I filled the space left by cancelled tours with clips and playlists that made me feel connected to my audience. When hopes of a return to normal were thwarted by the second lockdown in late 2020, I struggled to find the motivation that had driven my response to the first.

Looking for something to focus on, I booked some studio time with Romeo Stodart and Dave Izumi and began pulling songs together for a new album. Twice the dates we booked had to be postponed due to pandemic restrictions, but Romeo and Dave carried on working, creating backing tracks based on the demos I’d sent them. When we were finally able to get together in April this year, they presented me with a different way of making songs, something I found highly engaging after the lost of momentum brought on by the lockdowns.

The Million Things That Never Happened isn’t about the pandemic per se, but the highs and lows of what we’ve been through provide the backdrop for the album, as they have done for all our lives over these past two years.

Billy Bragg 2021

“I read somewhere that the second most googled thing after pornography is ancestry. People want to know where they come from, why they were born, where they were born. You can get facts from the web, but details are priceless and can often only be learned orally from relatives. Yet too many of us rue the fact that we are left to piece together family stories from fragments we recall because we never asked our elders those questions.”

“I like my albums to finish with a stomper. My son Jack helped me out with this one. That’s him playing electric guitar in the video. He’s a pretty good songwriter himself, and when I played him what I had, he said it’s good but it needs some work. I said well you go and do it then. So he came back and he’d added a middle section and, you know what, he was right. I was really pleased. People have asked if there might be a ‘father and son’ album down the tracks. All I will say is you never know what the future might bring. ‘Ten Mysterious Photos…’ is about life online, both good and bad. I try not to get sucked down too many wormholes, but it can happen.”

“To me, I Will Be Your Shield is the heart and soul of the album. I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is the currency of music – that our job as songwriters is to help people come to terms with their feelings by offering them examples of how others may have dealt with a situation similar to that in which listener finds themselves. After what we’ve all been through, the idea of being a shield – physically, emotionally, psychologically – resonated deeply with me.”

In these challenging times, we all need something to hang on to. Like everyone else, my plans for 2020 have been disrupted by the pandemic, but today I’m announcing an extensive UK & Irish tour for this time next year to give me something tangible to work towards. My hope is that, by then, we’ll be able to get together again and enjoy the uplift that live music brings, to audience and performer alike. Hope to see you next Autumn.

 “After more than three decades of travelling around the world in a van, or spending all day flying vast distances to play a gig, I’m looking forward to having some time to explore cities that I usually only get to see between the soundcheck and the show. And this three night stand format is a way of keeping things interesting, both for me and the audience. I tried it out in Auckland recently and had a lot of fun revisiting my back pages.” Billy Bragg 2019

In each town Bragg will perform three unique shows on consecutive nights.The first night’s performance will feature Bragg’s current set, which ranges across his 35 year career. The second will see Bragg perform songs from his first three albums: his punk rock debut Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy (1983), its similarly raw follow-up Brewing Up with Billy Bragg (1984) and Talking with the Taxman about Poetry (1986). The third performance will see Bragg perform songs from his second three albums: the positively jangled Workers Playtime (1988), the pop classic Don’t Try This at Home (1991) and the back-to-basics William Bloke (1996).

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This years annual celebration of Kirsty MacColl is on Sunday 10 October. Meet 12 noon at Kirsty’s bench in Soho Square. All welcome. @billybragg @CrowleyOnAir @RobertElms @jamielillywhite .. Retweets appreciated. http://Kirstymaccoll.com.

Just found this column I wrote in July 2016. Think it stands up pretty well. https://www.ft.com/content/abc67bac-41e1-11e6-9b66-0712b3873ae1

Desperate stuff. I'm old enough to remember when the driver crisis was supposed to be a benefit of Brexit which would boost wages. That was four days ago. https://twitter.com/hendopolis/status/1442333548690558984

Fri Sep 17th, 2021

Billy Bragg
Thanks to all who tuned into the 'Billy Bragg On...' concert stream, you can still access the concert via Stabal https://stabal.lnk.to/BillyBragg until 10th Oct.Special bundles of 'The Million Things That Never Happened' are available for pre-order from the official store and you can get the exclusive colour vinyl LP from Rough Trade.Due to worldwide vinyl manufacturing supply issues, the release of the album has been rescheduled to October 29th with Vinyl LPs releasing on November 12th in the US.Pre-order the album and stream the singles 'I Will Be Your Shield', 'Ten Mysterious Photos That Can't Be Explained' and 'Pass It On' at https://BBragg.lnk.to/TMTTNH ... See MoreSee Less
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Thu Sep 9th, 2021

Billy Bragg
So here we are, a couple of hours out from my streaming gig and I'm starting to get butterflies. You'd imagine that, with it being a pre-recorded show I'd have nothing to worry about. I'm surrounded by a bunch of great musicians including Romeo and Michelle Stodart from the Magic Numbers and the whole thing sounds and looks fab.What's got me a bit nervous is the prospect of having to host the aftershow Q&A with the audience.Now when I say 'host' I don't mean invite people for a post-gig chat like I do at a normal gig. I'm mean 'host' as in contol a Zoom call with 20 people. Normally there would be some techie on the other end keeping it all going, but tonight I'll be piloting alone. It was my daft idea, so I've been left to host it.We've all be on video calls that didn't quite work for some unfathomable reason, so I am aware that the probability of something not going right and it being my fault is quite high. Anyway, I'm not going to let that spoil my enjoyment of the show which is going out at 8pm UK time tonight, with two later streams and Q&A's for viewers in the Americas and the Antipodes. If you can't join us tonight, you can get a pass to watch the show and all of the other wonderful content for any time up to 30 days. Details here: https://cutt.ly/kWtaIZJ ... See MoreSee Less
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© Billy Bragg 2019