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Sometimes, there is nothing so lucid as the prism of popular music through which to view our contemporary history and historical figures.  And there is little better popular music than what Britain has been exporting to the world since the Beatles.  

With Margaret Thatcher's passing today, former Smith's singer and songwriter Morrissey released a brutal assessment of the Prime Minister's leadership and accomplishments:

"Thatcher is remembered as The Iron Lady only because she possessed completely negative traits such as persistent stubbornness and a determined refusal to listen to others."

"Every move she made was charged by negativity; she destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the Irish Freedom Fighters and allowed them to die, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the Ivory Trade, she had no wit and no warmth and even her own Cabinet booted her out." ...

"Thatcher will only be fondly remembered by sentimentalists who did not suffer under her leadership, but the majority of British working people have forgotten her already, and the people of Argentina will be celebrating her death. As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity."

Ye-Ouch.  Maggie Take a Bow.

In fact,  as an artifact of her reign, she seemed to inspire near limitless depths of scorn   from Britain's pop-music scene.

You can hit the links in the articles linked above and find no shortage of examples, but my absolute, absolute favorite is from punk/ska pioneers the Specials, who describe the idea for Ghost Town stemming directly from the economic despair of Thatcher's Britain:

The song was inspired by the sight of elderly women selling their possessions on the Glasgow streets (in 1981). Keyboardist Jerry Dammers said: "It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong."

In an interview in 2011, Dammers explained how witnessing this event inspired his composition:  "The overall sense I wanted to convey was impending doom. There were weird, diminished chords... It's hard to explain how powerful it sounded.

And not only is it a great song, the video is nearly as good as the music:

Response to the ridiculous comments:  "Ghost Town" was the Specials' number one hit in the UK when it was released.  Afraid it struck a chord with the unemployed masses:  Read:

Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf


Originally posted to NYFM on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 10:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by An Ear for Music.

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