“Party in Trafalgar Square Saturday After Thatcher Dies, 6pm”
I’ve always associated Margaret Thatcher’s death with revelry. Growing up in London, I’d see posters all over the city bearing slogans like the above. While for an outsider it might seem like a bit of black English humor, these sentiments weren’t idle anarchy symbols patched on a teen punk’s backpack, but rather a sincere common British objective; to dance like crazy the moment Maggie bit the dust.
This week these parties were finally realized–and going by the fact that countless great UK bands hated Thatcher and used her as fodder for their material, the soundtrack would have been off the hook. Thatcher was a muse for the malaise felt across Britain from her induction into office in 1979 straight through to her eventual departure in 1990, and inadvertently led many bands to pen their most successful songs.
The woman who so aggressively cut funding to the arts inspired a pretty killer mix-tape – who would have thought the Iron Lady could, in death, become a pop-culture icon?
The Specials – “Ghost Town"
Thatcher’s hit machine started early in her tenure. The Specials’ “Ghost Town” echoed the widespread discontent as unemployment in Britain soared to 12%. It entered the charts in the summer of 1981, just as politically-motivated riots were breaking out across Great Britain. It leapt to number one and sat there for three weeks.
The Jam - “Town Called Malice”
The Jam also owe their greatest hit to the deflation years of ’81 and ’82. “Town Called Malice” has since become an island of its own popularity, galvanizing stadium sing-alongs whenever Paul Weller slips it in at the end of his concerts of newer, less catchy material.
Elvis Costello – “Tramp The Dirt Down”
Today, Elvis Costello’s anti-Thatcher anthem “Tramp The Dirt Down” has surged up the iTunes charts along with Judy Garland’s 1939 “Wizard of Oz” celebration “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” – the genius slogan emblazoned on placards at all the London dancing-on-Thatcher’s-grave street parties.
Morrissey – “Margaret on the Guillotine”
But the most uncompromising of all on the anti-Thatcher mill comes from Morrissey. “Guillotine for Maggie” leads the procession, crooning heavy disdain all the way to the cemetery.