WTF Podcast

Episode 391 - Billy Bragg

Music legend Billy Bragg stops by the garage, guitar in hand. He talks with Marc about the punk and folk roots of his career as well as the events that led to his political activation. He also talks about his collaborations with Pete Seger, Arlo Guthrie and Wilco. Plus, Marc sets the record straight on Michael Ian Black. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, LegalZoom and Adam & Eve.

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  • 20 Comments


Darin D May 23, 2013 at 10:10 am


Nice stuff. Great combo of comedy, political and music

Brad in Ohio May 23, 2013 at 11:18 am


“They were moving away from the public.”

I still like you Marc May 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm


You can’t “rightfully” obtain kids by conducting biological experiments (licensed only by a Dumb DNA molecule) because you can’t find something better to do with your life. Has life not humbled you? No. It’s fine to be self-centered as long as you’re doing so in the face of others, rolling the dice with their welfare. This isn’t being cynical (if this sort of criticism is what you were referencing). Do you realize how reckless and obtuse it is to (attempt to) derive your happiness by using others, particularly creating need that doesn’t need to exist—Particularly in such a precarious, fucked up place. You’re not cynical, much worse—you’re deluded by a notion that there’s something to accomplish here. The only true positive is in the elimination of a negative, and you’re certainly going to be in over your head trying to balance that scale with such arrogance—‘the world is good enough as is to inject vulnerability into it…’ or ‘there’s nothing I can do so let’s see what my kid can do (for you? or for the world that you should be worrying about?).’ Do Nothing before touting your rationalizing protection of a relationship with someone of such little merit or depth that she would leave you if you don’t give her a person to make her happy. My irritation here is just that you’re defending your behavior to so many people with potential that would largely be squandered by doing the same thing. Thanks for reading, but I can’t say that I don’t hope you get exactly what you’re willing to risk for others. Both of you.

sarah May 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm


I understand that for most people it’s unfortunate that it’s too easy to settle for any relief before being humbled enough to gain the capacity not to be an added blight. I can see my life going very differently depending on how young certain decisions were (able to be) made. Certainly take pause and have some reflection on this decision

*simple correction to I still like you Marc commen May 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm


deluded by a notion that there’s something to accomplish here *other than prevention.

bricen May 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm


Great Stuff! I was really excited to listen to this interview because I’m a big Billy Bragg fan and this did not disappoint. He’s an incredible person and musician. The interview was really educational with his views on politics and the history of the pub rock and punk rock scene. Excellent all around!

Dave Loveland May 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm


Marc, thanks for a great interview. I have been a Billy Bragg fan since 1986 and the things he has said have influenced my view of the world ever since. It was moving to hear him talk about his father, his song Tank Park Salute has always brought me to tears because it reminds me so much of my Dad, who we lost just after he and I had a similar conversation to the one Billy had with his son in the car….......it was the first time I felt like a peer and not just a kid…....I think of him every day, I hope you can patch it up with your Dad.

Joe Tily May 24, 2013 at 2:28 am


Another great musician interview Marc and didn’t Billy sound great at the end?.  OK - next up in my dream line-up, Paul Weller . . . that would be an interview I’d love to hear.

Listener Greg May 24, 2013 at 11:40 am


“Everyone’s a Libertarian until their street’s flooded.”

Fucking right.

And since you’ve had Nick Lowe and Billy and since Joe Strummer has checked out, can I put in a request for their spiritual descendant, Ted Leo?

Matt(midwest) May 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm


procreation is what life is about.  we are only here to make babies, and invent a purpose.
jess, what a shame. if any of its true…  she sounds less appealing to me now, what a coincidence shes got demands after your success.

better hone in on what the people want for your careers sake.

talk about selfish, if mark dont make everyone happy…... wellllllllll bye

Matt(midwest) May 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm


hone in on the right people i should add. not everyone matters

Crate&Trauma; May 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm


Billy Bragg is the fucking man!

TheKid May 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm


This is a great episode. Billy Bragg is who Joe Strummer could and should had been. Hey Marc, please get Matador Records to hook you up with Josh Homme. That would be a good show for sure.

Gaia May 26, 2013 at 3:06 am


“Don’t harsh my hope buzz”... I needed to hear that, man. Thank you. Also—take care of your voice! Geez. Tea with honey and lemon. Tea with honey and lemon. I also read that slippery elm lozenges are what singers use to take care of their vocal chords. Hope that works for you, or at least you find something that works. Take care of your instrument! (It’s something of a national treasure ; ) )

loafward May 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm


listened twice—thx

Cat Admirer May 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm


Music shows seem to invite recommendations, so here’s mine. Next time your paths are in synch, i.e. you’re somewhere near Texas, try and get a sit-down with the great Ray Wylie Hubbard. Man, would that be a blast.


Quick musical P.S. - Grownup fans of WTF interviews should check out the podcast of Otis Gibbs, which thus far is simply songwriters and assorted other music lifers talking. Otis largely edits himself out of the interviews, there are no songs played, and in that format he’s doing something good.

Gylle May 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm


“You need to be OK with being alone to be with someone else properly (are kids a result of not being OK with being alone?)”

Chris May 29, 2013 at 2:17 pm


Great interview. Only minor quibble is when Bragg mentioned Keith Richards’ bit on “Moonlight Mile.” Though credited to Jagger/Richards, Keith actually doesn’t play on this track. The guitars were handled by Jagger and Mick Taylor…

Chad September 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm


I saw Billy with Echo and the Bunnymen in Berkeley CA on that tour in 84 and have followed him on and off since. I actually remembered him playing and had forgotten that the Fleshtones had played as well. I also remember as a teen trying to learn New England on a crappy acoustic guitar I inherited in the upstairs hallway in my home. I couldn’t get all the chords either. Come to think of now with all the tablature online I should give it another try.

Great podcast. Billy’s story and ideals are an inspiration.Thanks.

Chad September 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm


I saw Billy with Echo and the Bunnymen in Berkeley CA on that tour in 84. I actually remembered him playing and had forgotten that the Fleshtones had played as well. I also remember as a teen trying to learn New England on a crappy acoustic guitar I inherited in the upstairs hallway in my home. I couldn’t get all the chords either.

Great podcast. Billy’s story and ideals are an inspiration.Thanks.