Billy Bragg has released his new single Why We Build The Wall out now on Cooking Vinyl. Why We Build The Wall was written by American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell as part of her 2010 ‘folk opera’ ‘Hadestown’ (a retelling of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice set in the Great Depression). The song has taken on a whole new contemporary resonance with Donald Trump’s vow to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Billy first began covering the song on his 2016 Shine A Light tour with Joe Henry. Why We Build The Wall follows hot on the heels of Billy’s previous single releases King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood and The Sleep Of Reason, which were released in July and August respectively, and have gone down a storm on his recent live shows.
Says Billy:“I first heard Anais Mitchell sing ‘Why We Build The Wall’ at Occupy London in November 2011, standing on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. The power of the lyrics struck me then and, in the intervening years, the song has become even more powerful as the mass movement of people from Africa and Asia into Europe, North America and Australia has forced migration onto the political agenda.
In 2016, matters came to a head when anti-immigrant sentiment was identified as a prime mover in Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump was elected president after promising to build a wall along the Mexican border. In the coming years, driven by climatic changes in their home countries, more and more people are going to be on the move, looking for a better life for their families. Our children and our grandchildren will judge us on our response to those who come to our door looking for shelter.”
Watch the video to Why We Build The Wall here:
Billy Bragg has been a fearless recording artist, tireless live performer and peerless political campaigner for over 30 years. Among the former Saturday boy’s albums are his punk-charged debut Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy, the more love-infused Workers Playtime, pop classic Don’t Try This At Home, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee-timed treatise on national identity England, Half-English, and his stripped-down tenth, Tooth & Nail, his most successful since the early 90s. The intervening three decades have been marked by a number one hit single, having a street named after him, being the subject of a South Bank Show, appearing onstage at Wembley Stadium, curating Left Field at Glastonbury, sharing spotted dick with a Cabinet minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, being mentioned in Bob Dylan’s memoir and meeting the Queen. At their best, Billy’s songs present ‘the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal’ (the Guardian).
Billy Bragg has recently added best-selling author/musicologist to his CV with the success of his acclaimed 2017 book Roots, Radicals & Rockers – How Skiffle Changed The World.