(Originally posted on the old blog on 28 July 2010)

……………even if it is just as a backing vocalist:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – You Woke Up My Neighbourhood

Much as I love this song, I really do think it was a peculiar choice for a single. I can only guess that having enjoyed some bona fide chart success back in early 1991 with Sexuality, everyone associated with Billy Bragg, be it his record label and/or management, wanted to maintain the momentum.

The LP Don’t Try This At Home contains a number of potential hit singles, but none of them had an input from what was then the biggest band in the world, and so the gamble taken was to go for a less-obvious track in the hope there would be some crossover into the R.E.M. fanbase.

You Woke Up My Neighbourhood was a flop, stalling at #53. Indeed, the next again single, a re-recorded version of Accident Waiting To Happen, did much better reaching #33.

Looking back it probably made a bit of sense at the time, but this great little piece of country/bluegrass pop should have simply been a great track on a great LP instead of a release which did nothing but undermine Billy’s self-belief in his ability to become a crossover popstar.

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to Michael Stipe providing backing vocals, the talents of Peter Buck were deployed on acoustic guitar and mandolin. Indeed, the R.E.M. guitarist is the co-author of the song…..

Another great star of the alternative American music scene of the early 90s can also be found on the single, with Natalie Merchant being the co-author and lead vocalist on one of the three b-sides:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Bread and Circuses

The other two tracks consisted of a Billy Bragg original:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Ontario Quebec and Me

and a cover version of a song written by the aunt of Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright :-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Heart Like A Wheel

Actually, that last sentence doesn’t do justice at all to the lifetime of work by Anna McGarrigle, most of which was performed as part of a duo with her sister Kate McGarrigle (mum of Rufus and Martha) who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2010.

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