When I rang up Billy Bragg at his home in England recently, the folk-punk singer was in the middle of delivering a full-on scolding to his teenage son over a poor report card: "Don't you ever come home with grades this bad again," he said with some heat, before sending the young man on his way. I was impressed (and as a parent myself, I felt his pain). Then Bragg and I moved on to a wide-ranging discussion of music and politics. I asked about his 2002 song "NPWA," which still seems massively relevant in this age of ongoing economic calamity.
"I've felt for a long time that in this post-ideological world we live in, 'accountability' is still an important word," Bragg said. "I think it's the buzzword of the 21st century. How can we hold accountable those who have economic power over us? It's a big challenge because capitalism is like quicksilver in the way it moves. To watch TV and hear bankers admitting that even they don't understand what's happening is scary. We need to have some direct accountability. And with governments becoming shareholders in banks, that's got to be part of the deal."
ADDENDUM (11/2/08): Review of Bragg's daytime performance at UNC.