Friday, August 22, 2014
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RIP, Margaret Thatcher, 'Iron Lady' who inspired countless '80s protest songs

Anti- 'Iron Lady' rage was good for English rock.

RIP, Margaret Thatcher, 'Iron Lady' who inspired countless '80s protest songs

Former English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke on Monday.

The so called Iron Lady, who held office from 1979 to 1990, was arguably as influential on 1980s pop culture as Ronald Reagan, who she came to office eight months before and stayed in power two months longer than.

Punk rock was already in full flower when the Tory leader began dismantling the welfare state and touting free market economics while teaming with her good friend Reagan in Cold War political pursuits, but throughout her time in power Thatcher continually inspired New Wavers, ska bands and pop music makers of all stripes to protest her very existence.

Songwriters of note such as Dave Wakeling of the Beat (the English Beat on this side of the pond) called for her resignation as early as 1980, and both Elvis Costello and Morrissey allowed themselves to fantasize about her death, though in Costello's bitter "Tramp the Dirt Down," from 1989's Spike, he does sing "I hope you live long now, I pray the Lord your soul to keep" before spitting out that upon the PM's death, "I think I'll be going before we fold our arms and start to weep / I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap / Cause when they finally put you in the ground / They'll stand there laughing and tramp the dirt down." 

Below, check out an assortment of anti-Thatcher songs, including Sinead O'Connor's "Black Boys on Mopeds," Billy Bragg's "Between The Wars," Morrissey's "Margaret on the Giullotine," Costello's "Tramp the Dirt Down," Ewan MacColl's "Daddy, What Did You Do In the Strike," Robert Wyatt's version of Costello's "Shipbuilding" and The Jam's "Going Underground."

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Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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