[DWJ] Song lyrics

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jan 15 06:50:36 EST 2008

In <C3B2E5CE.1A7C%judith_ridge at netspace.net.au>, Judith Ridge wrote:
Gili mentioned: 
>> Yeah, there's that song that always irks me:
>> "I was twenty one years when I wrote this song
>> I'm twenty two now, but I won't be for long"
>> What song exactly was it that you wrote when you were twenty one? The one
>> about your being twenty two?
>That is from the brilliant, won't-hear-a-word-against-him, Billy Bragg and
>his classic Thatcher-era song "New England". It's about time passing and
>things changing too quickly, and love lost and is gently ironic (and
>meta-lyrical!) and self-deprecating and not a little plaintive, as is the
>whole song (and BB's ouvre, pretty much!)
I think it's possible that Bragg might have been quoting from the Paul 
Simon song of the late 1960s, I think called 'Leaves that are green turn 
to brown', with the words

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song
I'm twenty-two now but I won't be for long.
Time hurries on
And the leaves that are green turn to brown

>I adore Billy Bragg (and the deeply lamented Kirsty MacColl, RIP, who
>recorded her own lovely but very different version of the song).

How splendid if they said where the lines came from!  Homage rather 
than plagiarism would be a delight.  BB probably had to sing it at 
school -- Simon and Garfunkle's songs were on a lot of school 
curriculums (?curricula?) for a while.


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