Folk Music Punk

Billy Bragg – Can’t Be There Today

Can’t be there today is a slow and mournful folk ballad with clever and thought-provoking lyrics about the world we currently live in, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The arrangement is very minimal composed entirely from gently strummed guitar chords, lap steel and Billy’s distinctive voice.

The lyrics mournfully detail the things we are missing out on as result of the lockdown like weddings, gigs, Mother’s Day and other things which we took for granted just a few short months ago. The chorus turns this mournful listing into a positive, stating that “I love you and that’s why I’m going to stay away”.

Can’t Be There Today is a moving request to everyone to please be patient and to think of your loved ones and relatives in this unprecedented time of existential terror and simultaneous boredom.

Here’s the song and I’ll reprint the lyrics below, as they’re so important.


[Verse 1]
An invite to a wedding
That no one can attend
A poster for a show that never happened
Two tickets for a holiday
I can longer spend
And a gift for Mothers Day I won’t be wrapping
This is all I’m left with
In a world that’s been shut down
I wannna come see you mum
But I fear that thing I might bring in

So I’m sending you this message
With a heavy heart to say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s I’m gonna to stay away”

[Verse 2]
It feels like hope has been postponed
All plans put on hold
Prospects fade and expectations shattered
But all through these uncertain days
I’ve come to understand
Those few precious things that truly matter
Mama you’ve been on my mind
As the world has slipped away
Promise me you’ll do the things
That must be done in the days to come

I don’t know when I’ll get the chance
To hug you so I wanna say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s why I’m gonna to stay away”

The time will come when this is done
And I won’t have to say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s why I’m gonna to stay away”

Lyrics courtesy of Genius

As an unrelated bonus to this blogpost here’s a better picture of that beautiful guitar Billy’s playing in the pic at the top.

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2 replies on “Billy Bragg – Can’t Be There Today”

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