Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today at the age of 87, and perhaps the best way to
celebrate note her death is with music.
Flip through the music magazines of the era—NME, Melody Maker, even Smash Hits—and you’ll be astonished by the number of references to Thatcherism (do they even mention David Cameron these days?), with musicians organizing the unfortunately-named pressure group “Red Wedge,” organized by musician Billy Bragg and former Jam frontman Paul Weller, to oppose Thatcher’s rule.
Their politics were frequently confused and immature—and in Morrissey’s case, psychopathically radical, beginning with "Margaret on the Guillotine," which reminds us that the former Smith's lead singer never held back his hatred of the Iron Lady—but the songs were often exceptionally good. So The Daily Beast has assembled the era’s best anti-Thatcher songs of the Thatcher decade, from the obvious (Elvis Costello’s “Tramp Down the Dirt”) to the obscure (The Pop Group’s “Justice”).
You can listen to all the music selection right here:
Twenty-five years later, one can presume that the former Smiths frontman is experiencing a rare moment of good cheer. Because like many British musicians of the era, Morrissey was fond of excitedly presaging the Iron Lady’s demise. “The entire history of Margaret Thatcher is one of violence, oppression, and horror,” Morrissey once told Rolling Stone. “She is only one person and can be destroyed. I just pray there is a Sirhan Sirhan [RFK’s assassin] somewhere. It’s the only remedy for this country at the moment.” When in 1984 the Irish Republican Army exploded a massive bomb at a Conservative Party conference, killing five and disabling many others, he expressed his “sorrow” that “Thatcher escaped unscathed.” The British punk band Angelic Upstarts responded with a song cheering the Brighton attack (“killers unite / killers with the right!”).
My favorites — Morrissey, of course, but a ska-moving version of Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," from the Specials: