Saturday, 17 October 2009

Say Something - The Rant part 3

This isnt really a rant apart maybe for the end sing along, but i went back to listen to this after reading about "Workers Playtime" the lp this song comes from on Pretending Life is Like a Song

I've always liked Billy Bragg's relationship songs much more than the political ones. Even though i agreed with the content and the sentiment I couldnt get passed the feeling that it was all a bit preachy and at that preaching and pop dont really sit well together. Having said that this was written about the night Neil Kinnock lost the election to John Major. If I remember rightly Labour were ahead in all the polls there was a feeling that change was on the way .... and it was against john Major. But somehow depsite red wedge they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, which meant 4 more years of conservatives in power and a result new labour and Tony Blair.

the song starts in aftermath of that defeat and ends with a rallying cry - every lyric is instantly quotable - may favourite is the "mixing pop and politics line". I've seen Billy Bragg live a few times and the lyrics always change - however these originals are the best

It may have been camelot for jack and jacqueline
But on the che guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel castros brother spies a rich lady whos crying
Over luxurys disappointment
So he walks over and hes trying
To sympathise with her but he thinks that he should warn her
That the third world is just around the corner

In the soviet union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That dr robert oppenheimers optimism fell
At the first hurdle

In the cheese pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of someone stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer

Mixing pop and politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
Im looking for the great leap forwards

Jumble sales are organised and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time theres still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While youre waiting for the great leap forwards

One leap forward, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?

Here comes the future and you cant run from it
If youve got a blacklist I want to be on it

Its a mighty long way down rock n roll
From top of the pops to drawing the dole

If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman

In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room

So join the struggle while you may
The revolution is just a t-shirt away
Waiting for the great leap forwards

Wating for the Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg

You can buy "Workers Playtime" here (this is the reissue 2cd version) and remember revolution is but a t-shirt away!


  1. One of the best songs that Billy Bragg has ever written....and yes, the way he changes some of the lyrics year after year is a real joy.

    I highly recommend The BB bio, penned by Andrew Collins. A great insight into his life and work....and there's great tales about the making of Workers' Playtime.

  2. Thansk for the recommendation - that will go on the xmas list. I didnt relasie he'd written a book on BB


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