Back to True Blue Homepage
Margaret Thatcher & Music
Margaret Thatcher has a mixed relationship with music. Her favourite pop song*, Telstar, was the first single by a British group to reach number one in America in 1962. It’s producer, Joe Meek, whose recording studio was above a shoe shop on the Holloway Road, committed suicide. One factor behind his death is believed to be because a French hack film music writer claimed Joe had stolen the melody of `Le Marche d'Austerlitz' and used it in Telstar resulting in all income from Telstar being frozen. In a nutshell there is the Thatcher ethos at home and abroad; British ingenuity and small business chutzpah is appreciated in America but strangled by the envious French. The whole of her foreign policy was guided by such instincts and the memory of Joe Meek.
Growing up she would have been used to having her name in song, Maggie or Margaret is one of the most commonly used girls names after Sue and Jane, but by the 1980s the references were much more pointed and actually about her. Many songs such as Ghost Town by the Specials or Town called malice by the Jam were about social conditions produced by Thatcherite policies rather than the lady herself though. The 1980s were a golden era of political song and though many people can forgive Thatcher her decimation of the mining industry, her indirect responsibility for the lyrics of Billy Bragg is another matter altogether.
There is a deep irony in that many of the bands most militantly anti Thatcher were on labels that seized the ethos of self help small enterprises that Thatcher loved or were indeed de facto self employed businessmen themselves. There were also people who endorsed the Tory Party including Steve Strange, Gary Numan, Phil Collins and (deny it all he likes later) Paul Weller. Rock critic David Cheal said that Weller (and many others from Simply Red to Soul to Soul) were ‘working class boys made good’ and as such ‘archetypal Thatcherite success stories’ - whatever political views they may have held. Lynsey de Paul was a true Tory artist though who composed the forgettable ‘Vote Tory, Tory, Tory, for election glory’ and Stock Aitken and Waterman in the mid 1980s were quick to argue that rock and roll and pop were intrinsically tied up with the celebration of capitalism and spending money and that lefty artists might be best just leaving their whining aside.
(*her favourite all time song is How much is that doggy in the window)
What follows though is a Margaret Thatcher top ten. Any suggestions welcome but remember the songs must be about her so no room for Maggie May or Maggie’s Farm (unless it’s the Specials B-Side version).
Margaret Thatcher top ten!
1) Blue by Fine Young Cannibals
2) Stand down Margaret by the Beat
3) How does it feel to be the mother of a thousand dead? By Crass
4) I'm in love with Margaret Thatcher by the Notsensibles
5) Tramp the dirt down by Elvis Costello That's when they finally put you in the ground I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down
6) Margaret on the guillotine by Morrissey
7) The day that Thatcher dies by Hefner
8) Blue rinse haggard robot by the Inner City Unit
9) Maggie by the Exploited one of many ranty pseudo punk bands who wrote about Thatcher but definitely the best, or at least most representative, lyrics: Maggie you c*%t, Maggie Maggie you c*%t, Maggie Maggie Maggie you f*^£!*g c*%t! Who says the British lyric genius is dead?
10) Free World by Kirsty MacColl.