The news that Ding Dong the Witch is dead has reached number one in the download charts is a reminder that, whatever else she may have been, Margaret Thatcher was fertile territory as far as pop music was concerned. Here’s a look at the Thatcher era via the medium of a top ten:
Part of the Union– The Strawbs – Highest chart position number 2 – Year in chart 1973
“You won’t get me, I’m part of the union,” goes the lyric, a slogan taken up by real unions in the industrial battles of the time. Thanks to Thatcher, it proved to be wildly optimistic. This video is introduced by her close friend, Jimmy Savile.
Eton Rifles – The Jam – 3 – 1979
Feels like an anti-ruling class tirade, but the lyrics contained a warning – bitter and crushing defeat was around the corner for the left, who, as soothsayer Paul Weller predicts, “came out it it naturally the worst”.
One in 10 – UB40 – 7 – 1981
In the 80s it seemed like every news report about unemployment featured this piece of thumping reggae as its backing track, so much so that it probably brought on the yawns after a while. Shame, it’s a great track.
Ghost Town – The Specials – 1 – 1981
Another one loved by the backing-track brigade, Ghost Town’s haunting sirens and quietly sang anger still send shivers down the spine.
Shipbuilding – Robert Wyatt – 36 – 1982
“Is it worth it?” asks Wyatt, referring to the Falklands War in which 900 young men died fighting over a few bits of rock, a war likened to two bald blokes arguing over a comb. It was worth it for Thatcher, whose sinking popularity shot up afterwards.
Electric Avenue – Eddie Grant – 2 – 1982
The Brixton street in question wasn’t much affected by the riots – caused by racist police and their stop and search policy – but probably made a better title than Railton Road. Eddie’s exasperated “Good God!” says it all.
Two Tribes – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – 1 – 1984
Thatcher was dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ by the sarcastic Soviets for her Cold War antics. The video featuring Thatcher’s pal Ronald Reagan, in a wrestling match with then USSR leader Konstantin Chernenko, captures the impending armageddon madness of the time.
Money Changes Everything – Cyndi Lauper – 27 (US) – 1984
For some reason not released in the UK, but its idea that, “everybody’s only looking out for themselves,” felt bang on the Thatcherite money and when Cyndi belts it out, you’d better listen.
Tramp the Dirt Down – Elvis Costello – from the album Spike – 1989, charted 2013
While the early 80s anti-Thatcher songs were calling for change, this one was a wish for revenge after a decade of defeat. Safe to say they won’t be playing it at the funeral next Wednesday.
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead – Judy Garland and the cast of The Wizard of Oz – 1 – 2013
She’s gone where the goblins go.