Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Political Lightbulb Joke

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, banging on about Banksy yet again. You've got me pegged as a one-trick pony, but I'm actually a two-trick pony 'cos I also like to bang on about Billy Bragg from time to time.

Loved this Billy Bragg anecdote about his cultural visit to East Germany in the late eighties as recounted on 'Brewing Up With Political Pop', which is the title of episode five of his ongoing series of podcast reminisces of his thirty year career:

"I got selected - I don't know why - to do a gig in the Nava Lightbulb factory. Which was, you know, not really my cup of tea. It was a noisy, horrible place, and I played in front of the men and women's toilets at lunch hour, whilst people were trying to get their lunch. It was not the greatest Billy Bragg gig, you know. Hopefully, there isn't a bootleg of it anywhere.

But it was all broadcast for the radio, and they asked me what I thought of the fabulous people's lightbulb factory? And I said, look, I do this job so I don't have to work in a shithole like this, mate. Don't expect me to be saying good things . . ."

The Berlin Wall was torn down a few years later.


Edward the Bonobo said...

I once heard Billy talking about how he got to tour the DDR. He was having a piss backstage at a folk festival when...
"I heard this growling coming from the bloke at the urinal next to me. When I'd found an interpreter, it turned out that Dick Gaughan was inviting me to come and tour East Germany with him."

daggi said...

There's also the nice anecdote of how Billy in early 1989 was told to get out of his tourbus to be filmed for the Aktuelle Kamera, the news programme on DDR-1 television. It happened to be parked outside a stretch of the Berlin Wall. Already highly pissed off, Billy said he wouldn't say what they wanted him to (saluting the "antifascist protection wall" etc.). They told him it didn't matter what he said anyway, as they'd translate it as if he'd said exactly that anyway. He refused to get out of the bus. They told him "he would never perform in the GDR again". There wasn't enough time - a few months later the state was collapsing.

Has anyone ever seen a copy of Billy's "I love Erich Honecker and East German Stalinism" (not quite sure of the actual title) fanzine he produced in the mid-80s after a tour?