Peter Van de Graaf shares some of his favorites, from the late German tenor Fritz Wunderlich to American soprano Renee Fleming.
Englishman Billy Bragg has long been known for his political, often left-leaning songs. But he also writes many songs about love and troubled relationships.
A fan has dubbed Bragg the “Sherpa of Heartbreak,” and Bragg accepts the title.
“It sort of made me think of someone who was trying to get over the hill of heartbreak, if you will, and my songs kind of helping them do the heavy lifting,” Bragg told Here & Now.
On his new album “Tooth & Nail,” which is out later this month, many songs mine that territory.
“Swallow my Pride” is about the struggles to maintain a long-term relationship, Bragg said. And in “Handyman Blues,” he sings of his complete inability to fix anything around the house, though he is able to write songs about his love for longtime partner Juliet Wills.
The album was also his way back into making records after a longtime absence, Bragg said.
This is his first new studio album in five years. In the interim, his mother died, which made him take stock of his life.
“I needed to focus on something, I needed to grasp onto something, commit to something,” he said. “The record became my way of getting past that, of coming out the other side of it, coming up for air.”
Music video for “No One Knows Nothing Anymore” off the new album: