Apr 022024
dollyrots a new england

Childhood sweethearts Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas are nearly a quarter of a century into their band The Dollyrots and even further into their relationship as a couple. They now bring their kids on tour when they take their infectious punk-pop on the road. They have a neat line in covers, as we have noted before. Clearly happy with each other, they are willing to tackle different types of scenarios (which might be unfamiliar with them), such as “A New England” which was a hit for Kirsty MacColl based on folk-punk-rocker Billy Bragg’s original.

“A New England” is one of the great tracks about early relationships. Bragg notes that young love is often accompanied by disappointment, as one or both parties lacks the emotional tools to make it a success. You let the other down, but you also let yourself down. Most of us have been there. Both sides are there for the intense start, and both sides have to deal with the consequences of failure. Hopefully the former partners will get the chance to grow, and do better next time. Hopefully. The original version is a great song, but not a hit. Chart success, and a series of covers, took a collaboration between Bragg and Kirsty MacColl, with the female protagonist augmenting the emotional aspect of the loss of love, with neither side fully committing to the end or their ex.

Whatever disappointment The Dollyrots have had with each other over the years has, presumably, been subsumed into their successful partnership. Like any couple they have their moments, but they are willing to forgive themselves and each other and move on. So their version of the song comes from a different place. There is less introspection and self-flagellation and more playful banter. While Bragg and MacColl worry that their ex might be happier with a new partner, if they have one, Ogden is merely playing with Cabezas, the way that couples do. Is he looking for another girl? Seems unlikely! Their comfort with each other gives an upbeat roadmap of contentment for others. Some believe that great art requires great suffering. The Dollyrots beg to differ and it is difficult to argue with them.

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  One Response to “The Dollyrots Cover Billy Bragg—and Kirsty MacColl”

Comments (1)
  1. Their band name perfectly evokes their sound

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