Tomorrow’s going to be a better day/ we’re going to make it that way – Tuesday with Billy.

Billy Bragg tooth & nail

“To the misanthropic, misbegotten merchants of gloom
Who look into their crystal balls and prophesise our doom,
Let the death knell chime, it’s the end of time
Let the cynics put their blinkers on and toast our decline

Don’t become demoralised by this chorus of complaint
It’s a sure sign that the old world is terminally quaint
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
No matter what the siren voices say
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
We’re going to make it that way

To the pessimistic populists who harbour no doubt
That every day we make our way to Hell in a handcart
And the snarky set who are sniping to get
Anyone who sticks their head above the parapet

Don’t be disheartened baby, don’t be fooled,
Take it from someone who knows: the glass is half full
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
No matter what the siren voices say
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
We’re going to make it that way”


photo source

The Saturday Boy – Fridays with Billy

Just one of my favorites. (I know. They’re all “one of my favorites.” What can I do?)

She danced with me and I still hold that memory
Soft and sweet
And I stare up at her window
As I walk down her street
But I never made the first team,
I just made the first team laugh
And she never came to the phone
She was always in the bath
I had to look in the dictionary
To find out the meaning of unrequited
While she was giving herself for free
At a party to which I was never invited

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

PS Sorry for the earlier formatting fail! I was posting a draft from my phone and now we know how well that works.

Joined in an ideological cuddle – Fridays with Billy

Because the husband loves it, and I love him.

(Also, not for nothing, but the video’s kind of adorable).

your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
we are joined in the ideological cuddle

I’m celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven’t noticed yet
I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet

Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how I love those evening classes

you really know how to make a young man angry
can we get through the night without mentioning family

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

Fridays with Billy.

No reason – I just really like this one. (And so does my sweetie, making me like it even more).

Take the M for me and the Y for you
Out of family and it all falls through
We’ve got to love each other every day
Instead of hoping it might stay that way…

full lyrics; What is Fridays with Billy?

PS No idea why there was no Billy last Friday. What was I thinking? No clue.

Fridays with Billy – & Jian!

Not Billy Bragg. The other guy.

I had no thought as to which Billy Bragg track I wanted to post today – and lo, as I searched around there in the YouTubes, I found this! Our Billy chatting with my newest radio crush, Jian Gomeshi! (Jian broadcasts on CBC in Canada and his show, Q, is also broadcast on NPR. And I want to be his friend. But nothing creepy – I also want to be Billy’s friend).

So you know what? Here’s Billy being charming and friendly and talking about politics and soccer and fear of flying with old Jian. Followed by the song he performed in studio, “I Almost Killed You.”


PS: As fans of “Fridays with Billy” will recall, Billy once sang with a Canadian lobster puppet called Captain Claw. Captain Claw (seen here singing about getting to the toilet on time) was among a menagerie of puppets who once appeared on Canadian kids’ TV, under the gentle tutelage of a puppet yam (as in: sweet potato) called Mamma Yamma. A couple of years after interviewing Billy, Jian Gomeshi interviewed Mamma Yamma. Wheels within wheels, people, wheels within wheels!


In Norway, music drowns out hate – Fridays with Billy.

Our man Billy knows a thing or two about the power of song.

Last week, 40, 000 Norwegians came together to sing a particular song in the square outside the courthouse where Anders Behring Breivik is on trial for killing 77 people in a paroxysm of anti-immigrant rage. It’s a song that Breivik hates: “Children of the Rainbow,” which he has singled out in his various screeds for particular contempt:

A sky full of stars.
Blue sea as far as you can see.
A land where flowers grow.
Could you want more?
Together we will live
every sister and every brother.
Small children of the rainbow
and a flourishing world.

…Say it to all the children!
And tell every father and mother.
We still have a chance
to share our hope for this world.

Now, to be sure, our Billy doesn’t usually sing such soothing stuff — his calls for unity tend to be on the more battered side, often speaking for those who haven’t had a chance yet to hope, much less to share that hope.

But as I say, the man knows a thing or two about the power of song. Here’s what he had to say about that moment in Oslo on the pages of today’s Guardian:

It’s not much of a protest song, to be truthful. The lyrics of Children of the Rainbow sound ideal material for a Sunday school choir. Yet, when sung by 40,000 Norwegians in response to a week of testimony by the rightwing terrorist Anders Breivik, the meaning of those words has been transformed.

The lyrics were written by Lillebjørn Nilsen, a much-loved Norwegian singer-songwriter from the 1970s, who Breivik singled out in his testimony as a “Marxist” who “writes music that is used to brainwash children”. Far from being a call for revolution, the lyrics paint a picture of a society where “Together we will live/Each sister and brother/Small children of the rainbow”.

…Seeking to express their solidarity with the victims of this act of terror as they assembled to give their evidence this week, the people of Oslo chose a song that extols the kind of multicultural society that Breivik despises. By the simple act of singing it together, they have drowned out the voice of hatred emanating from the Oslo courthouse.

Coming together, in the rain and holding roses, all those lovely Norwegians also brought to mind their Prime Minister, speaking in the wake of the attacks last year: “We must – and will – meet terror with more democracy,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, “not less.”

Some time ago, Billy had opportunity to write a new English version of a song that actually does call for revolution, “The Internationale” (he was asked to do so by Pete Seeger, and as Mr. Bragg says below – you don’t say no to Pete Seeger) — I suspect Breivik hates that song, too. So in honor of Breivik’s victims, and of those gathered in an Oslo city square, here’s Billy version of “The Internationale.”

If we don’t want the Breiviks of the world to win, it’s on us.

Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone 

complete lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

Big, big h/t to my girl AsiangrrlMN

The War on Women and Fridays with Billy.

We’re back! After two weeks of no Billy Bragg for holiday-related reasons, the internet can now heave a sigh of relief. Fridays have regained their Billy-ibrium!

This week’s selection, “Trust,” is a short story, really, told by a woman. One of the things I’ve always loved most about Mr. Bragg is his ability to channel the voice of someone entirely unlike himself — a gay veteran of the Second World War, a Japanese-American victim of internment, or, in this case, a woman who’s been very badly done by the man in her life.

He wrote this song at the height of the AIDS crisis, and the lyrics leave us entirely uncertain: Is she pregnant? Infected? Or just afraid? There’s no way to know, but that fear, that uncertainty — that abandonment — is a thing with which many, many women are all too familiar, and which far too few men have made an effort to understand.

Least of all the men making decisions about our bodies.

There’s been a lot of angry back and forth lately about the phrase “war on women,” and on the recent day that 150 Afghan girls were poisoned for the crime of going to school, I wavered a bit, myself — and then I remembered the state-sanctioned rape that is forced transvaginal ultrasounds, such as take place in Texas every day. People are literally attacking our bodies in an effort to create a legislative reality that inimical to our most basic interests — I think “war on women” is pretty reasonable.

The first line of defense in any battle has got to be information, and in that spirit, I want to encourage you to check out and bookmark the frankly mind-boggling Team Uterati Wiki on which Angry Black Lady and the Team Uterati team are doing yoeman’s labor. It’s a one-stop-shop for information on the people, the places, and the roughly 1,100 anti-choice bills currently pending across the country.

You heard me: One thousand and one hundred.

Women are human beings. We have a fundamental, human right to bodily autonomy, one that powerful people (some of whom are women) are attempting to strip from us, for their own purposes. The only way to win this war is to fight back. Let’s arm ourselves with knowledge, inundate them with our demands, and vote the bastards out come November. And then let’s keep fighting.


He’s already been inside me
And he really didn’t say
And I really didn’t ask him
I just hoped and prayed

He’s already been inside me
And I really don’t feel well
I keep looking in the mirror
But it’s hard to tell

Will he stay by me and take my hand
And hold me till I sleep
Or will he crumble and fall to the floor
And weep
Oh feeble man, Oh evil man

He’s already been inside me
Would he have told me if he cared?
I know I ought to find out
But I’m much too scared

He’s already been inside me
And I know it can’t be good
Nothing feels
The way it should

Will he hold me in his arms again
And wipe away my tears
Or has he already taken
My best years
Oh evil man, Oh feeble man

What is Fridays with Billy?

UPDATE: It’s been suggested to me that this song is “being sung by one man about another man, not by a woman at all.” I can see that, and remember it crossing my mind back in the day, so I mention it here — I can only hope Mr. Bragg himself weighs in someday…! (Knowing his work, it’s entirely possible that he left the song just that vague on purpose).

Land Day in Israel/Palestine and Fridays with Billy.

Today is Land Day in Israel/Palestine, a memorial day commemorating the March 30, 1976 deaths of six Palestinian-Israelis, killed while protesting Israel’s practice of expropriating Palestinian-Israeli land.

Since then, Palestinians both inside and outside of Israel-proper have marked March 30 as a day on which to protest not just issues concerning land within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders, but also Israel’s generally discriminatory practices toward its Palestinian citizens, and the occupation/settlements.

So far (1:45 pm, CST) one protester, Mahmoud Zaqout, has been killed in Gaza, but at least one other person has been critically injured by Israeli fire, so it’s likely that the number of dead will rise by at least one. Many others have been injured and/or detained.

Such a day seems a particularly good day to run Billy Bragg’s “The World Turned Upside Down,” about a 17th century land protest.

There are, of course, myriad differences between any and all 17th century realities and those of our century, and certainly between that of peasants claiming land for common use in England, and a nationalist war over a scrap of land in the Middle East. Indeed, the Diggers of whom Billy sings would likely not have begun to know what to do with the notion of nationalism, an idea born in the late 19th century.

Never mind. Some words, some ideas, some suffering is, in fact, universal, and carries down through the ages. And the echoes are frighteningly close to what we still see today, nearly 500 years later.

May this Land Day be the last, and may Israelis and Palestinians alike soon know peace and justice, amen amen.

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


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

full lyrics;What is Fridays with Billy?

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

For all the black, brown, yellow, and red boys we have killed – Fridays with Billy.

If we are honest with ourselves, Americans will admit that we face a range of racisms that frankly boggles the mind. I suppose it’s not “Americans,” per se, I suppose it’s humans — but Americans are the humans among whom I live, among whom I raise my babies. It’s our racism with which I must grapple.

Asian Americans are our “model minority” today, stigmatized and locked into behavior and qualities that we claim to value, even as we reduce human beings in all their complexities to a check list of traits and expectations.

But in the 1940s things looked quite different. Japanese Americans — and often others, lumped together based on physical appearance — were such a threat that people felt the need to tear them from their homes and lock them away.

I don’t like to write about anti-Asian bigotry as if it began and ended with the internment of Japanese Americans, but those camps remain one of the greatest stains on our collective soul, a stain that I believe we are all too ready to forget.

Billy Bragg sings a song about those camps, something that you would think an Englishman would be unable to access, and sings it from the soul of someone else, almost, sings it from the dirt in which young men lay dead, in a war that engulfed a generation, even as some left mothers, fathers, wives and children back in internment camps in order to fight for the country that had put them there.

In this 2010 live version, Billy brings the song (by Barbra Griffin and Leah Cooney) up to date in his introduction, with his usual astute grasp of human nature and sneaky sense of humor. He’s a gift, this man, and in a week in which Americans are talking about the killing of brown boys, I think also of the other brown boys, and yellow boys, and red boys, and girls, and men, and women, and babies who we have killed in our ignorance. In their memory, I give you Billy Bragg, singing “Everywhere.”

lyrics;What is Fridays with Billy?

Old school Motown – via Fridays with Billy.

Again: No good reason, beyond my sheer love of the song. Sometimes Billy is an angry prophet — sometimes he’s just a man in love.

It’s bad timing and me
We find a lot of things out this way
And there’s you
A little black cloud in a dress
The temptation
To take the precious things we have apart
To see how they work
Must be resisted for they never fit together again
If this is rain let it fall on me and drown me
If these are tears let them fall

Hearing these words, I remember this feeling so sharply it hurts all over again.

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

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