Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today, marking the end of an era for music as well as politics.
Unlike in the U.S., where musicians mostly stayed away from criticizing President Reagan, their British counterparts had a field day with Thatcher’s conservative regime. Here are a few of the many, many songs written about the Iron Lady’s 15-year reign.
1. “Stand Down Margaret,” The English Beat (1980)
“I see no joy/ I see only sorrow/ I see no chance for a bright new tomorrow”
Man, that is a nice suit.
2. “Shipbuilding,” Robert Wyatt (1982)
This Elvis Costello-penned tune is lush and lovely—and subtle, making it arguably a more effective protest tune than most.
3. “Tramp the Dirt Down,” Elvis Costello (1983)
But of course, Costello is a master of scathing political songs, and this is maybe his meanest of all.
4. “How Does It Feel?” Crass (1984)
These underrated anarchist punks took Thatcher to task over the Falklands War.
5. “Margaret on the Guillotine,” Morrissey (1988)
British police investigated Morrissey after he described Thatcher’s beheading as a “wonderful dream” on Viva Hate, his solo debut.
6. “Thatcherites,” Billy Bragg (1996)
The best protest singer since Dylan promises to take back Britain from the Thatcherites. How’s that working out for you, Billy?
Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This 2011 blog post compiles 13 anti-Thatcher tunes, including Crass’ crass “How Does It Feel to Be the Mother of a Thousand Dead?” and The Exploited’s rather uh, succinct “Maggie You Cunt.”
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