Tiny Desk

Billy Bragg

Download Audio

21 min 14 sec

OK Go helped us move the Tiny Desk from our old building to NPR's new headquarters, and The National performed the first full new-building Tiny Desk Concert we posted to the site, but Billy Bragg gave us the first full Tiny Desk Concert we actually recorded in our new office.

Bragg, one of the world's finest contemporary folksingers, appropriately sang "Handyman Blues" as his first tune — and was quickly met with lot of hammering on our rooftop by some real handymen as they put the finishing touches on NPR's new home.

Bragg, along with Dobro player C.J. Hillman, also channeled the spirit of legendary American folksinger Woody Guthrie, with whom Bragg collaborated — albeit posthumously, in Guthrie's case — when he took Guthrie's unsung words and set them to song with the help of Wilco. Here, he takes a song Guthrie himself co-opted and altered: a gospel tune ("This World Is Not My Home") he'd turned into an anthem against inaction.

In "I Ain't Got No Home," Bragg follows in the folk tradition by altering the song to address the issue of universal health care. It's a rare talent to make it work, but Bragg, as always, finds a way to blend politics and music with grace, charm and a rough edge.

Set List
  • "Handyman Blues"
  • "I Ain't Got No Home"
  • "Sexuality"
  • "No One Knows Nothing Anymore"
Credits

Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Marie McGrory/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with EL VY. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

EL VY

The National's Matt Berninger and Menomena's Brent Knopf team up in an intimate setting.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Arcs. Jessica Mowery/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jessica Mowery/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Arcs

It's our 500th show at the Tiny Desk, featuring The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and his new band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Wolf Alice. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

Wolf Alice

The band's music can be noisy and primal, but at the Tiny Desk it showed a different side.

Tiny Desk Concert with River Whyless. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

River Whyless

The North Carolina band fills its rootsy music with unexpected instruments and clever ideas.

Tiny Desk Concert with Benny Sings. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Benny Sings

The Dutch singer layers R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop beats in his first-ever U.S. appearance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Natalie Merchant Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Natalie Merchant

The singer-songwriter gives a warmhearted performance of two new songs, an old favorite and a hymn.

Tiny Desk Concert with Mariachi Flor De Toloache Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mariachi Flor De Toloache

While on tour with The Arcs, the powerhouse mariachi band performs live in the NPR Music offices.

Tiny Desk Concert with Rapsody Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rapsody

Watch the rapper perform three songs from Beauty And The Beast live at the NPR Music offices.

In January, Mucca Pazza set a Tiny Desk record by fitting 23 members onstage. Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

All Songs Considered

2015: Looking Back On A Year At The Tiny Desk

This year, NPR Music published 84 sessions from behind Bob Boilen's desk. Here are 15 highlights.

Tiny Desk Concert with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Watch the soul star perform "Silent Night" and two originals — one for Christmas, one for Hanukkah.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor