Billy Bragg kicks off series of music-centric author events at Free Library tonight
It’s easy to think of musicians, especially those who have found a lot of success making music, as somehow one-dimensional in their output. If they do anything else, be it art, writing, movie-making, or even political activism, the response oftentimes is, “But why can’t you just stick to music?” This fall the Philadelphia Free Library is planning to answer that question emphatically with an author speaker series highlighting some well-known voices in music who have also made important contributions to literature.
The first of these is tonight at the Main Branch of the library with British singer-songwriter and longtime rabble rouser Billy Bragg. Never one to shy away from making a statement, Bragg has been making political music since he first entered the scene back in the late 70s.
Bragg’s first release, 1983’s Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy, was an instant classic with its mix of storytelling romance and social commentary that to this day sounds incredibly relevant. His ability to write songs that don’t just last but continue to feel fresh has fueled his career as a musician.
On top of his huge discography – 17 LPs, six live albums, numerous compilations, and an endless amount of singles – he has also authored four books. His first, The Progressive Patriot: A Search For Belonging, came out in 2006 and is described on his website as “part autobiography, part polemic,” which feels like the perfect way to talk about everything he’s created since day one.
Tonight he’ll be discussing his most recent book, The Three Dimensions of Freedom, about the need for accountability along with liberty and equality – that’s the three – to be able to fight against tyranny and authoritarianism. WXPN’s Ian Zolitor, from the Folk Show, will be serving as moderator.
On October 21st Patti Smith will be at the Annenberg Center to talk about her newest, Year of the Monkey, which is described on the event page as, “a meditation on loss, politics, and aging, wrought from a solitary sojourn through Northern California and other more metaphysical landscapes.” The final event in the series is Booker T. Jones from Booker T. & the M.G.’s talking about his new memoir Time Is Tight. That is on the 30th of October, also at the Annenberg. More information on the series can be found