Music world responds to Margaret Thatcher’s passing


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english beat, stand down margaret
In death, as in life, Margaret Thatcher has proven her ability to inspire animosity, especially in the world of music.

Songs targeting Britain’s most ultra-conservative Prime Minister have included the English Beat’s “Stand Down Margaret,” Morrissey’s “Margaret on the Guillotine,” Elvis Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down,” Pink Floyd’s “The Fletcher Memorial Home,” the Exploited’s “Maggie,” and Billy Bragg’s “Thatcherites.”

A number of those artists have issued statements about Thatcher’s death this week, but Britain’s music-buying public has perhaps spoken loudest: “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” has racked up more than 10,000 sales since Monday, which means it will land in the UK’s Top 5 and force the government-supported British Broadcasting Corporation to air it as part of its weekly chart roundup.

In what would be a first for the BBC — and an insult to most of its listenership — management is toying with the idea of bringing on a reporter to explain the reason for the song’s popularity. (Listeners are on their own when it comes to figuring out why Nelly, Bruno Mars and Michael Buble are also in the Top 10.)

Meanwhile, as the world anxiously awaits comment from Michelle Shocked and Ted Nugent, a number of the Iron Lady’s harshest critics have weighed in this week:

Morrissey called Thatcher “a terror without an atom of humanity.”

Billy Bragg argued in a Facebook post that Thatcher’s demise is largely irrelevant and, in any case, no cause for celebration.

• And former Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten describing those who celebrate her death as “loathsome.”

Margaret Thatcher stamp
All well and good, but what about the Oak Ridge Boys? Yes, they too issued a statement revealing that they once performed at a function where Thatcher spoke. “We sang several songs that evening and got to spend a bit of quality time with Lady Thatcher,” says Oak Ridge Boy Joe Bonsall as his reflection reaches a dramatic crescendo. “It was a great honor and a very memorable event for all of us."

Perhaps not surprisingly, English Beat frontman Dave Wakeling — who spoke about the BBC’s reaction to “Stand Down Margaret” in a recent Indy interview — delivered the most thoughtful commentary on Thatcher’s death in a Hollywood Reporter article earlier this week. It’s a lengthy piece, but the last paragraph says it best:

“At the end of the day, the worst thing about Margaret Thatcher is not that she said in 1987, 'There's no such thing as society — there are individual men and women and there are families,' or that she was an ardent supporter of the Apartheid movement in South Africa who once called Nelson Mandela a 'grubby little terrorist.' The worst thing is, she bloody won and we let her get away with it."


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