A New England

by Alex Hern

Billy Bragg: Britain’s most popular Marxist, a proper working class political activist. Also, an average songwriter. At least these days; he has become one of those people too distracted by his, uh, side project, to concentrate on the main event. Which is a shame; once, he was hailed as England’s Dylan. No more of that, now that he is Bestselling Author of The Progessive Patriot.

Bragg is probably best known for his single Levi Stubbs’ Tears, an intensely political song, but the first one to become well known (thanks to a top-ten cover by Kirsty MacColl) was his slice-of-life anthem A New England, which became the blueprint for everyone from the Streets (Every song he’s ever recorded) to Willy Mason (With his own anti-anthem, Oxygen). An extra verse was written specifically for MacColl, and after her untimely death, Bragg has always sung it in her honour.

As well as the original, and its most famous cover (which, to be honest, I’ve never much rated), I also think Jamie T’s cover is particularly notable, given the (musical, at least) similarities between the two male, solo, acoustic singer-songwriters.

Billy Bragg – A New England [MP3 Removed]

Jamie T – A New England [MP3 Removed]

Kirsty MacColl – A New England [MP3 Removed]