wilco vs. Bragg



From guest diarist Tom2: Do you think Billy Bragg will ever recover from the drubbing he got from Wilco on Mermaid Avenue--the Woody Guthrie tribute album? Bragg, fighting for the UK, threw more punches (sang on more tracks) but still got knocked out by the hometown heroes. Let's review.

In the first round, Bragg was hit pretty bad with Wilco's killer lead hook ("California Stars," #2). Bragg could only land the soft blows of "Walt Whitman's Niece" (#1) and "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key" (#3). These are repetitive rabbit punches--moves we've seen before from the normally pugnacious Brit! It was said that Bragg hit like a girl in this round, but he couldn't even do that: Natalie Merchant's haunting "Birds and Ships" (#4) was far better chin music.

In the second round, Wilco left themselves open with a jangling jab ("Hoodoo Voodoo," #5) that was matched by Bragg's dull hooks on "She Came Along to Me" (#6). At this point, neither fighter was hitting too hard. Then Wilco struck to the heart with "At My Window Sad and Lonely" (#7). It looked grim for Bragg, but he responded by changing the pace entirely with the fancy fretwork of "Ingrid Bergman" (#8). This was, in effect, his number-one hit. The bell rang.

In the final round, Wilco led with a hanging cross--"Christ for President" (#9)--which was countered by Bragg's upbeat uppercut, which, he boasted later, "I Guess I Planted" (#10). But the bravado was short-lived. Because from that point on, Wilco started landing powerful punches "One by One" (#11), which Bragg could not even parry, his knees buckling on the hollow "Eisler on the Go" (#12). Wilco continued to battered the man, peppering him with the tuneful "Hesitating Beauty" (#13) until the crowd was crooning the soulful strains of "Another Man's Done Gone" (#14), as Bragg was knocked out flat on the mat. He lay there, tired and downbeat, for a quite awhile--five minutes and nine seconds, in fact--like "The Unwelcome Guest" (#15).

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