Sunday, September 9, 2012

When music had a political purpose: Billy Bragg Between the Wars

Billy Bragg has always tried to use his music to serve leftist social and political purposes and support grassroots social movements.

His song Between the Wars  was inspired by and released during the UK Miners Strike of 1984-85 and is a song that Bragg wrote and performed as part of his efforts to support the striking miners and express and mobilise opposition to the Thatcher Government.

A thoughtful analysis of the song and of Billy Bragg's political vision for his music can be found in this article by Jeremy Tranmer.

Between the Wars
Billy Bragg

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 armoury
"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 knew
Between the wars

Call up the craftsmen
Bring me the draughtsmen
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

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