Three months after announcing plans to go into “one-man Clash mode” on tour this fall, Billy Bragg this morning released the first of several new songs inspired by the current political tumult, a track called “The Sleep of Reason” that addresses nationalism in the U.S. and Europe.
The song, which you can stream below, is set to raw electric guitar, and alludes all manner of current events, including Brexit, the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., the war on truth and the alt-right (“giving license to all this hate is going to make our country great”).
In a statement announcing the single’s release, Bragg says the song was inspired by a visit to The Prado gallery in Madrid, where he saw Goya’s etching “The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters.”
“Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so I’ve decided to start dropping tracks as they become ready. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is the name of an etching created in 1799 by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The title struck a chord with me when trying to understand the events of last year. The lies and hubris of the Leave campaign in our EU referendum were echoed and amplified by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Only by restoring empathy and reason can we hope to defeat the monstrous forces of nationalism and untruth.”
Stream the song below, and check out Bragg’s fall tour dates, too.
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