The Progressive Patriot – complimentary music

1st December 2006
Billy Bragg
Bantam Press
Number of discs: 1

I was twenty one years when I wrote this song
I’m twenty two now, but I won’t be for long
People ask when will you grow up to be a man
But all the girls I loved at school
Are already pushing prams
I loved you then as I love you still
Though I put you on a pedestal,
They put you on the pill
I don’t feel bad about letting you go
I just feel sad about letting you know
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
I loved the words you wrote to me
But that was bloody yesterday
I can’t survive on what you send
Every time you need a friend
I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
It’s wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
Looking for another girl
Looking for another girl
Looking for another girl

I was a miner
I was a docker
I was a railway man
Between the wars
I raised a family
In times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry
Between the wars
I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help the working man
And they brought prosperity down at the armory
We’re arming for peace, me boys
Between the wars
I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man
Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we know
Between the wars
Call up the craftsmen
Bring me the draftsmen
Build me a path from cradle to grave
And I’ll give my consent
To any government
That does not deny a man a living wage
Go find the young men never to fight again
Bring up the banners from the days gone by
Sweet moderation
Heart of this nation
Desert us not, we are
Between the wars

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will

They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed
Reclaiming what was theirs

“We come in peace,” they said
“To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste grounds grow

This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain

By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell

We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords

We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim

Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share

All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

Father mows the lawn and Mother peels the potatoes
Grandma lays the table alone
And adjusts a photograph of the unknown soldier
In this Holy of Holies, the Home
And from the TV an unwatched voice
Suggests the answer is to plant more trees
The scrawl on the wall says what about the workers
And the voice of the people says more salt please
Mother shakes her head and reads aloud from the newspaper
As Father puts another lock on the door
And reflects upon the violent times that we are living in
While chatting with the wife beater next door
If paradise to you is cheap beer and overtime
Home truths are easily missed
Something that every football fan knows
It only takes five fingers to form a fist
And when it rains here it rains so hard
But never hard enough to wash away the sorrow
I’ll trade my love today for a greater love tomorrow
The lonely child looks out and dreams of independence
From this family life sentence
Mother sees but does not read the peeling posters
And can’t believe that there’s a world to be won
But in the public schools and in the public houses
The Battle of Britain goes on
The constant promise of jam tomorrow
Is the New Breed’s litany and verse
If it takes another war to fill the churches of England
Then the world the meek inherit, what will it be worth
Mother fights the tears and Father, his sense of outrage
And attempts to justify the sacrifice
To pass their creed down to another generation
‘Anything for the quiet life’
In the Land of a Thousand Doses
Where nostalgia is the opium of the age
Our place in History is as
Clock watchers, old timers, window shoppers

At night the baby brotherhood and the inter city crew
Fill their pockets up with calling cards
And paint their faces red white and blue
Then they go out seeking different colored faces
And anyone else that they can scare
And they salute the foes their fathers fought
By raising their right hands in the air
Oh look how my country’s patriots are hunting down below
What do they know of England who only England know
From the stands of the empire stadium
Come the heralds of the new dark age
With the simplicities of bigotry
And to whom all the world’s a stage
These little john bullshits know that the press
Will glorify their feats
So that the general public fear them
And the authorities say give ’em all seats
And the wasted seed of the bulldog breed
Is shouting here we go
What do they know of England who only England know
Our neighbors shake their heads
And take their valuables inside
While my countrymen piss in the fountains
To express our national pride
And to prove to the world that England
Is just as rotten as she looks
They repeat the lies that caught their eyes
At school in history books
But the wars they think they’re fighting
Were all over long ago
What do they know of England who only England know
And the society that spawned them
Just cries out who’s to blame?
And then wraps itself in the union jack
And just carries on the same
Oh look out my country’s patriots are hunting down below
What do they know of England who only England know

Take down the Union Jack
It clashes with the sunset
And put it in the attic with the emperors old clothes
When did it fall apart?
Sometime in the eighties
When the great and the good gave way
To the greedy and the mean
Britain isn’t cool, you know
It’s really not that great
It’s not a proper country
It doesn’t even have a patron saint
It’s just an economic union
That’s past its sell-by date
Take down the Union Jack
It clashes with the sunset
And ask our Scottish neighbors
If independence looks any good
‘Cause they just might understand
How to take an abstract notion of personal identity
And turn it into nationhood
Is this the 19th Century
That I’m watching on TV
The dear old queen of England
Handing out those MBEs
Member of the British Empire
That doesn’t sound too good to me
Gilbert and George are taking the piss aren’t they
Gilbert and George are taking the piss
What could be more British than is a picture of me bum
Gilbert and George are taking the piss
Take down the Union Jack
It clashes with the sunset
And pile up all those history books but don’t throw them away
They just might have some clues about what it really means
To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon in England dot Co dot you-K
To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon in England dot Co dot you-K

My mother was half English
And I’m half English too
I’m a great big bundle of culture
Tied up in the red, white and blue
I’m a fine example of your Essex man
I’m well familiar with the Hindustan
‘Cause my neighbors are half English too
My breakfast was half English
And so am I you know
I had a plate of Marmite soldiers
Washed down with a cappuccino
And I’ll have a veggie curry about once a week
The next day a fry it up as “Bubble ‘N’ Squeak’
‘Cause my appetite’s half English
And I’m half English too
Dance with me
To this very English melody
From Morris Dancing to Morrissey
All that stuff came from across the sea
Britannia she’s half English
She speaks Latin at home
St. George was born in the Lebanon
How he got here I don’t know
And those three lions on his shirt
They never sprung from England’s dirt
Them lions are half English
And I’m half English too
Le-li Umma le-li-ya, le-li Umma le-li-ya
Le-li Umma le-li-ya, le-li, bledi g’desh akh! le-li-ya
Oh my country
Oh my country
Oh my country
What a beautiful country you are

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© Billy Bragg 2021