2008 releases artists covers digital downloads guitar live songs music

Billy Bragg – Live on Fair Game

Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg recently performed a live set on PRI’s “Fair Game”

Billy Bragg
, the “working class hero”, recently performed a set on one of my favourite shows, PRI’s “Fair Game“. And it was stunning.

I truly feel that Bragg has been responsible for some of the best protest songs that we’ve heard in the last 30 years
… just listen to his EP “Between the Wars” to see what I’m talking about. Couple that with the fact that Nora Guthrie – daughter of Woody Guthrie himself – asked Bragg to set some of her father’s unrecorded lyrics to music (side note: can you imagine how intimidating that would have been? Woody Guthrie, a giant in the folk protest song world, “this machine kills fascists” on his guitar Woody Guthrie? Man… that can’t have been an easy act to follow), and it becomes clear why I have such a tremendous amount of respect for the man.
So it was with much excitement that I listened to his latest show on “Fair Game” last week. We were treated to a collection of three songs, which I’ve included below. The first, “Sing Their Souls Back Home“, is a sad, but ultimately hopeful song… in the best tradition of protest. The second, “I Keep Faith“, has been getting a panning from music critics recently, but I’m a huge fan of this Van Morrisonesque sounding tune. There’s just something about the song that recalls “Into the Mystic” for me, and I’m not sure why. But it’s a good thing.
The final tune is a more upbeat number, and is a cover of the Bob Dylan tune, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right“… and what a great way to close a set it is.

Billy Bragg’s new album, “Mr Love & Justice” went on sale last week.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Billy Bragg – Sing Their Souls Back Home (live on Fair Game)
Listen: Billy Bragg – I Keep Faith (live on Fair Game)
Listen: Billy Bragg – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan cover, live on Fair Game)

2008 releases artists digital downloads live songs music

Stephin Merritt – A Nun’s Litany (live on Fair Game)

Stephen Merritt - The Nun’s Litany
The Magnetic Fields (with Stephin Merritt – middle)

For close on twenty years now, Stephin Merritt has been recording what can only be described as pop masterpieces under the name “Magnetic Fields”. Stephen’s songs have a way of crawling inside you, and then filling you with raw emotion until you explode. Cliched that may be, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less true.

Recently, Stephin appeared on PRI’s “Fair Game” show, and performed his heartbreaking single, “The Nun’s Litany“, live, with just his ukelele as accompaniment. Magnetic Fields fans will know that this is not the first time he’s done so live; in fact, there is a Channel 4 video of him doing just that.

That said, this version, to me, is filled with even more longing, even more yearning, and even more heartbreak.

I just wished that he performed the vocals on this song in the recorded version, which appeared on their latest release, “Distortion“. Instead, those were performed by Shirley Simms. While she does so admirably on the record, nothing could live up to this version, for me.

I want to be a brothel worker,
I’ve always been treated like one.

– Stephin Merrit, “The Nun’s Litany”

Listen. Love. Support.

Stephin Merritt – The Nun’s Litany (Live on Fair Game)

2007 Releases artists digital downloads guitar live songs music

The National – Slow Show (live on Fair Game)

Just a quickie post today; but thought I would delight you all with another offering from The National.

Despite the constant blogosphere hype about this group (which seems to have been going on for years now) that plagues them, The National continues to deliver on their initial promise.

The National - Slow Show
The National performed “Slow Show” live on “Fair Game”


They recently appeared on PRI’s “Live on Fair Game” show, and performed four tracks live in studio: “Fake Empire,” “Slow Show,” “Start A War,” and “You’ve Done It Again Virginia”.

The track I’ve included below is the haunting “Slow Show”.

I wanna hurry home to you
put on a slow, dumb show for you
and crack you up

Matt Berninger’s voice? Man, it still gets me every time. With such a distinctive tone, you might think it’s efficacy may wear off in time; you’d be wrong.

To hear the other tracks (and more releases from Fair Game), head here.

Listen: The National – Slow Show (live on Fair Game)

I know, I know, this is short. But hey, with a cracking tune like that I couldn’t let it slip by. Regular posting will resume once things quieten down at work.

Tomorrow? A band I love has reformed. And my thoughts…