Billy Bragg says Taylor Swift is a “kindred spirit” and praises her music industry activism

"I have a lot of respect for her"

Billy Bragg has called Taylor Swift a “kindred spirit”, praising her for standing up for the rights of artists in the music industry.

Speaking to Sky News, Bragg discussed why he chose Swift’s song ‘Only The Young’ as one of his potential ‘Covers for Others’ — a charity initiative which aims to raise money for the Royal College of Nursing Foundation’s Covid-19 Support Fund.

Fans can donate to vote for a track they would like to see Bragg reinvent. Other artists who have taken part in the initiative so far include Declan McKenna and Frank Turner.

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Bragg told Sky that learning the song was “no bad thing” and recalled how he and Swift “got on like a house on fire” when they met at this year’s NME Awards. 

Bragg said: “I have a lot of respect for her, trying to stand up as an independent woman in the music industry.

“Not just because of the amount of sexism and misogyny in our industry, but also because she is trying to keep hold of her own catalogue, which is a really important thing to do.”

He continued: “Unfortunately, you know, it is still, sadly, a sexist, racist industry. And for someone like Taylor Swift to stand up and make that point, I think it’s very powerful.”

taylor swift 2019 getty images Dave Hogan
Credit: Dave Hogan for Getty Images

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Bragg went on to speak about how he watched Swift’s recent Miss Americana documentary.

Speaking about Swift’s ongoing battle to own her back catalogue, Bragg added: “[Taylor] tried to go back and get her rights back. Watching the Miss Americana documentary, I realised that she was quite a kindred spirit.

“I do it on a small scale, but she does it on a huge scale. And that’s what she said to me, she said ‘I really respect what you do about politics’. And I went, ‘it’s much harder for you. The fact that you take a stand, you know, it has much bigger implications. Everyone expects me to do it…but from you it makes a lot more of a difference’.”

Bragg and Swift presented the Godlike Genius gong to Glastonbury boss Emily Eavis at the NME Awards earlier this year.

Hailing his co-presenter at the time on Twitter, Bragg wrote: “I don’t know who was more surprised to learn that we were co-presenting an award at the NME Awards last night, me or @taylorswift13.

“I have a lot of respect for her and the stand she has taken on equality and artist’s rights. Needless to say we got on like a house on fire.”

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