I’ve had Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy on repeat recently. My old flatmate Elliott used to play ‘A New England’ (track 4) a lot, but rarely sung along to the words. Which is a shame, because they are brilliant.
Apparently this particular song was indeed inspired by Bragg looking up into the sky for inspiration, and only seeing two satellites. The way that almost-but-not-quite-adequate-metaphor is handled – the words, all their syllables, packed into that line is so bloody witty. Along with all that goes with it; the sense of a frustrated poetic soul concerned with what’s ‘wrong’ and missing the point. Not seeing the trees for the wood.
Earlier this month, NASA announced that mankind had become an interstellar species, thanks to Voyager. On board Voyager – or VGER as it will come to be known when it makes a destructive return journey to Earth – is the Golden Record. There’s no Bragg on board – no Beatles either, since EMI refused to release the rights to ‘Here Comes The Sun’. But bugger me if the text on board doesn’t represent some of the best copywriting ever.
It’s elegant and deliberately clumsy at once. Consciously stripping away at rhetoric. It’s self-awarely naive yet genuine at the same time. It’s precocious. It wishes on Space Hardware.