Billy Bragg honored Woody Guthrie with a poignant cover of “I Ain’t Got No Home” at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Wednesday, Spin points out. The legendary folkie was being inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame.
Bragg previously covered the aching tune on his last solo album, 2013’s Tooth and Nail. At the Folk Awards, he tweaked that version’s already sparse arrangement into a mix of vocals, acoustic guitar and steel guitar. Against his own subtle guitar picking and the somber slides of the pedal steel, Bragg delivered Guthrie’s saga of an impoverished migrant worker with a resolute drawl that teetered on the edge of sorrow.
Bragg has covered Guthrie’s music throughout his career and notably partnered with Wilco to put new music to a trove of unused Guthrie lyrics at the request of the late musician’s daughter. That album, Mermaid Avenue, arrived in 1998, while two follow-ups arrived in 2000 and 2012.
Last year, Bragg teamed with Joe Henry for the collaborative album, Shine a Light: Field Recordings From the Great American Railroad, which boasts covers of train songs popularized by artists like Jimmie Rodgers, Lead Belly, Hank Williams and the Carter Family.