Friday, May 11, 2012

I thought about posting the first Billy Bragg song I ever heard, a song called "A New England" (1983), because I like how the song is aware of a politic -- a bio-politic -- without allowing that politic to reduce its singer to an ideologue, something Bragg, like his idol Woody Guthrie,  managed to do so well.

Was all set to post "A New England" when I thought of another song from a few years later, The Proclaimer's "It Broke My Heart" (1987), about a (Scottish) family for whom the political economic situation had clung to them like soot.

Back in the late-80s my band (Hard Rock Miners) and I had the pleasure of opening for The Proclaimers at the Commodore Ballroom, after the release of their second album, Sunshine on Leith (1988).

It was not the biggest crowd at the Commodore that night. But that would change -- certainly for The Proclaimers, who, some years later, had their song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" turned into a beer ad, and went from clubs to concert halls. As for us, we did a beer ad (radio version) and, as a result, lost our college airplay.

It Broke My Heart
(Charlie Reid, Craig Reid)

Saw a man who was fifty-one
He had married daughters and a single son
And he's lost his job as this year's begun
And it broke my heart

Saw his wife who was fifty-two
She said she was sure they could make it through 
That her single wage would just have to do it now
And it broke my heart.
Talked about it with the family now
What began in sadness ended up a row 
All the guys with their clever mouths
They were saying we should move south.
Saw the son who's been gone two weeks
And he's down already with a job to seek
And he's in King's Cross and there's no one speaking now
And it broke my heart.

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