Earlier this year, the great socialist singer-songwriter Billy Bragg flipped Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” turning it into a protest song about Donald Trump. And now Bragg has come out with his own protest song about Trump and about the terrifying reactionary swing in last year’s elections. Bragg’s new song “The Sleep Of Reason,” one of several standalone singles that Bragg plans to release this year, is a stripped-down stomper about why the world needs empathy right now. Below, listen to the song and read what Bragg has to say about it.
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.
“The Sleep Of Reason” is out now at iTunes.