As the gig of a lifetime looms for the Winchester singer, he tells Steve Anderson why he's seizing the moment while silencing the critics from his past
Cameron's project inspires musical parody, writes Jonathan Brown
The singer Billy Bragg, a high-profile campaigner against the British National Party, will today argue for electoral reform as a crucial step to marginalising extremist politicians.
Though keen to work my way through all 424 pages of Kay "Hurly" Burley's debut novel First Ladies, I must confess to having been waylaid by its acknowledgements section: a revealing roll call of the company Ms Burley keeps when she's not on Sky News encouraging celebrity divorcees to blub. The erstwhile ice dancer's first two thank-yous go to fellow chick-lit authors Tasmina Perry and Kathy Lette, who obligingly provided First Ladies with pre-publication puff quotes. Lord Mandelson, too, merits Ms Burley's gratitude, and claims on the cover that she "uses her unrivalled knowledge of the worlds of politics, media and celebrity to racy effect". (Yes, Peter, but is it any good?) Also thanked profusely are former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who left office under a cloud of (alleged) dubious financial dealings; Damian McBride, who left Gordon Brown's employ when he was caught discussing whether to spread scandalous tales about the private lives of Tories; and Lord Archer, who was jailed for perjury. If you need help creating a work of fiction, I suppose there are worse people to ask.
'I got detention every Saturday'
After more than two years off the radio airwaves, following a nervous breakdown and family disintegration, the award-winning presenter Andy Kershaw has confirmed that he is to make a comeback to BBC Radio 3.
More great dancing around the kitchen music from DJ Bob Dylan's radio show, cannily compiled into a second double CD with scholarly annotations by a mystic-sounding Billy Bragg.
Russ Feingold, a Democratic US senator for Wisconsin who's been turning his attention to the more relaxed matters of pop music, posted a video on his website (www.russfeingold.org) last month entitled "Fein Tunes", where he discussed music that interested him, offering a shout-out to fellow Wisconsinite, Bon Iver. A later instalment discussed his fondness for Wilco, in particular for 'Mermaid Avenue' (1998), the album of Woody Guthrie songs they recorded with Billy Bragg. Feingold's timing is good as Wilco's new album is released in June, and already available to stream at their website, tinyurl.com/ppx8nn.
Chris T-T and Frank Turner combine punk attitudes with the essence of folk
The title neatly defines Billy Bragg's interests as a songwriter – romance and equality – though with a few exceptions, he's covered both with far greater vitality before.