BILLY BRAGG – “Between The Wars” (7″ single)
I don’t like Billy Bragg much, ‘specially not when he sings about politics. Not because I disagree – in fact quite the opposite: I want a political song to make me think, not pat me on the back. I remember this song coming on the Top 40 show when I was 12 and my just hating it: it was the slowest thing I think I’d ever heard. Bragg’s scraped-out tones stood back then for Down-To-Earth, Proper Socialism, and in the eyes of the mid-80s music press he could do very little wrong. I don’t know why I bought it – it was ten pence in some bargain basement a couple of years ago, just after Labour had got in and the administration I’d spent my whole remembered life living through and my whole adult life disliking had, finally, finally been swept out of power.

So I played the record, one of Bragg’s most overtly stirring calls to comradely arms. I thought about what it had stood for then, and how hard the people Bragg was singing about had fought, and how hard the people Bragg was singing for had fought in the eighties, and what had happened to Labour in the end. For those four minutes, “Between The Wars” seemed one of the most moving and conflicting things I’d ever heard. I don’t honestly think I’ve put it on since.