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I was recently reading “A Love Letter to the Lyrics of Levi Stubbs’ Tears”, a blog post about the subtle brilliance of this song (link here), and I completely agree. From the opening line “With the money from her accident she bought herself a mobile home.” I’m immediately right there with the character by withholding almost all of usual important information when developing characters (her name, what was her accident, etc.). Billy Bragg seems to channel Harper Lee, whose ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ starts with a similarly ambiguous line about one of the main characters breaking his arm. The rest of the song delves into a story about a woman dealing with an absent, abusive husband, and having been married very young. According to the article above, Bragg often talks about music being a power able to break through the walls of cynicism people build around themselves, and this song is a great example of both the cynicism that exists in all of us (the narrator) versus the emotion that seeps through with music (the Four Tops tape and Levi Stubbs’ tears). There’s a lot packed into this song, and for that reason, it is today’s SOTD.
Check it out here