Billy Bragg(pictured) and Wilco are to be a subject of a BBC2 documentary in December on their recent album of Woody Guthrie songs – and Bragg has told NME.com that there is another Guthrie album in the pipeline.
Bragg and Wilco released a collection of previously unrecorded Guthrie songs this year called ‘Meramid Avenue’, a release that has sparked much interest in the US, even to the point of appearances on the high-profile Letterman talk show.
Bragg, speaking at a photocall for the ‘Rock The Dock’ album raising money for the former striking Liverpool dockers, said he and Jeff Tweedy had already picked a shortlist of 25 songs for the second installment. He said he understood many Guthrie fans were disappointed the partnership hadn’t produced a double album.
“We felt confident enough that it wasn’t enough to do one album,” said Bragg. The British singer was originally contacted by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, to go through unused lyrics left by her father – none of which had been set to music. Guthrie, who died in 1967 of Huntington’s chorea, chronicled the ‘dustbowl’ depression of the 1930s and other social issues. His heavily-political folk music inspired artists such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Bragg said he was still amazed at the number of songs Guthrie had completed. “There are about 2,500 of them, and they’re complete songs. Who else writes that much? That’s about 200 albums worth of songs.”
The album is unlikely to surface before the middle of next year, due to Wilco’s third album, as-yet-untitled, appearing at the start of 1999. Bragg also said this was why they did not tour the album, apart from a few Fleadh and WOMAD shows in the US during the summer.
Meanwhile, a best of Billy Bragg is likely to appear early next year, ahead of a new solo Bragg album. “I think it’s a good time to do it,” he said. ” I’m turning 40, I’ve been doing this for the last 15 years. But I don’t know what will be on it. I haven’t really started thinking about it!”