Word Podcast 291 – Billy Bragg talks about the vital role played by skiffle in the story of British rock

David Hepworth writes: We dropped off Billy Bragg at his London hotel after this evening at Word In Your Ear and on my way home I started spooling back through the dizzing range of subjects we had touched upon in the course of the evening: Izal medicated toilet paper, the Beatles, Joe Henry, the restorative effects of finishing the evening signing tea towels, Bovingdon tank museum, an old copy of the East London Advertiser, meeting Bob Dylan, watching old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, the importance of accountability, what the Clash could do and what they couldn’t do, meeting Ray Galton in the pub, what poems could each of us recite from memory, Lead Belly, the cultural importance of TV cowboys, how many of the Quarrymen are still alive and then there was a joke about a doctor and a cat which I can’t recall enough of to relate here.

In the middle of all that we recorded a podcast where Billy talked about “Roots, Radicals and Rockers”, his acclaimed book about skiffle.

The following day I asked Mark if there was anything I’d forgotten and he added: Conscription, rationing, availability of post-war foodstuffs (sugar, sweets), embouchure re brass instruments, Italian fashion and screen idols, American ’50s pop culture, the birth of ITV, cowboy mythology, Dixie, blues, trad jazz, bop, jive, rockabilly, skiffle, punk, garage rock, ragtime, syncopated rhythms of New Orleans, Spasm band instruments, the laws of the railroad & transport of livestock and, well, you get the idea. Thanks to Billy for giving us one of the great nights at Word In Your Ear. If you enjoy the Word podcast don’t forget to favourite it in all the usual places.

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