April 13, 2010

Billy Bragg & Wilco//California Stars

I can’t exactly say why this feels like a good song for today, but it does. It’s kind of grey outside. Did I tell you I might be moving to California in about a year? Where I might be going, every day is a beautiful one. I can’t imagine what this might do for my mood. Good things, I suspect. Still, I have to wonder if I might miss the seasons, the overcast mornings, the weather giving me permission, as a coworker aptly noted yesterday, “to feel sad.”

This came out in 1998, when I was just a freshman in high school. It’s a collaboration between British musician Billy Bragg and Chicago-based once alt-country, now more experimental Wilco to imagine melodies and chords for old Woody Guthrie songs that only had lyrics. They did a great job. The result is a gorgeous album containing many beautiful songs, including personal faves “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key” and “Ingrid Bergman.” The project was organized by Guthrie’s daughter Nora and was named after the street in Coney Island where Guthrie once lived.

Also, when I was about 16, I had this inside joke with a friend that consisted of us shouting, “BILLY BRAGG!!!” in a really gruff bad English accented faux-Billy Bragg voice. I’m not exactly sure where that came from, but I think it had something to do with this album. And maybe The Sex Pistols? I know—they seem so unrelated.

California Stars.mp3

I’d like to rest my heavy head tonight
On a bed of California stars.
I’d like to lay my weary bones tonight
On a bed of California Stars.
I love to feel your hand touching mine.
Oh, tell me why I must keep working on?
Yes, I’d give my life to lay my head tonight
On a bed of California stars.


The Disappeared said...

I love Billy Bragg although I know he has a tendency to come across as a bit too earnest and worthy sometimes.
That said, you never doubt his commitment and passion for the subjects he writes about. And those are good qualities for a song-writer and he's got them in spadefuls.

g said...

Yeah, he and a lot of singer songwriters of that era can come off a bit school marmish, but for the most part I don't mind because for the most part I agree.