Billy Kelly is a singer and songwriter from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania who has released a new song and video that serve as a protest to the current political climate. "This Christian Nation" is a rebuttal to the resurgence of far-right religious ideology.

Background

Billy Kelly began his career in NYC in the 1990s within the “Anti-Folk” movement that was taking place in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Back then, Billy was best known via his alter-ego, “Earl Pickens,” a swaggering cowboy character. Over time, his Music earned him many accolades and an audience of Barack Obama. Billy has even partnered with British singer and songwriter Leon Rosselson who is well-known for his protest songs.

Given Billy’s experience with music and protest songs per se, he felt that the time was right to pen a protest song regarding the current state of affairs in the United States. He recently granted Blasting News an exclusive interview discussing his latest release and the fury of emotions behind the surprisingly soothing melody.

Interview

Blasting News (BN): What prompted you to write "This Christian Nation" and what are some of the biggest issues you wanted to shed light on?

Billy Kelly (BK): I am so sick of hearing this idiocy that America is a Christian nation. It’s not. It was never intended to be and you can ask the founders themselves, because they stated their opinions on the matter very clearly. So, the whole idea is ludicrous. But then there is this flip side — and this is what my song addresses — where you look at the actions of this country and scratch your head asking, “How could anyone in their right mind call this Christian behavior?” This “America is a Christian nation” nonsense has resurfaced in the last year or so and it was on my mind so I wrote about it.

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BN: You're a comedian so did you try to use humor in any way?

BK: I didn’t want to approach this particular issue with humor in this particular song, although there are plenty of things to make fun with regard to the hypocrisy of modern American Christianity. There’s the filthy obsession with guns, the constant boasting about kicking other countries butts, the fact that the right-wingers love their death penalty so much…the list goes on. So yeah, I’ve joked about all of that as a comedian but humor wasn’t the point with this song. The end result is the same whether you point out hypocrisy with a song or a joke — you point out something that some people might not have seen otherwise.

BN: Is this your first protest song and was it different to write from non-protest songs?

BK: I’ve written several protest songs over the years. I co-wrote an anti-hydro-fracking song a few years ago with the great English protest singer/songwriter Leon Rosselson. We wrote new lyrics to his song, “The World Turned Upside Down” which is itself a fantastic protest song, made famous by Billy Bragg.

I’ve done some other politically or environmentally minded songs at times. To me the process is the same whether I am writing a protest song or a love song or a funny song: think of something to say and say it. And try to make it catchy if you can — that never hurts any.

BN: Can you tell us a bit about your lyrics and why you worded them the way you did?

BK: I am a devout atheist, but I was raised Catholic and I know my Bible. I felt it was important for this song to be rooted in the Bible. I wanted to get across the inarguable truth that the United States of America does not conduct its affairs in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. I ended up re-reading a lot of Bible passages that I recalled from my childhood. I’d heard them enough times as a kid that I knew which ones I wanted to use in the song, so it was more a matter of double checking that I had the quotes correct. I wanted this song to be an “in your face” kind of thing in the most non-confrontational way possible. Jesus telling people to, and I quote, “love one another” is something that even the biggest right-wing hypocrite has to respect. Same with the question, “What would Jesus do?” Right-wingers are fond of that one so I wanted to turn the question back on them.

BN: What most concerns you about the current government and the rise of the far-right?

BK: I would have to say the rampant across-the-board hypocrisy in the current White House and Congress is the thing that is most concerning to me. They are saying one thing and doing the opposite and apparently getting away with it. This in turn enables and legitimizes this scary far-right ideology — a fringe ideology that is being pulled into the mainstream for someone else’s political gain. I don’t believe the people in power are really considering what they are doing by legitimizing the alt-right. What the alt-right does to our society is not their concern. Their own power is their only concern, and that is incredibly troubling, you know, that they would dump this alt-right on us and make their millions and get out. The next election cannot come soon enough in my opinion. I hope a huge majority of Americans will call foul on this. We’ll have to wait and see. I thought they were going to call foul last November, but I was wrong about that. At some point, it’ll happen.

BN: What do you hope your song will do to help the present situation?

BK: Things are messed up in this country right now. A very vocal, devious political minority has cheated their way into power and it is extremely disturbing to watch. As an American, this concerns me and I have something to say about it. As an artist, I sometimes feel moved to try and state my opinions in a way that is hopefully worthy of sharing. There’s a fire starting out there and maybe my song can be a log thrown on the fire. Maybe it will change someone’s mind. Maybe not. I don’t really have any hopes for the song specifically. I wanted to say what I wanted to say, and I’ve put it out there. A log on the fire. I guess my hope is that a million other people throw a million other logs in too and I can just say I helped build a great fire. Amen.

To learn more about Billy Kelly. visit his official website. His songs can be downloaded via iTunes. To watch the music video, search “This Christian Nation” on YouTube.