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Margaret Thatcher Protest Songs Came in Every Genre (Hi, Public Enemy)

The Iron Lady
The Iron Lady

Monday's news of former English prime minister Margaret Thatcher's death elicited mixed responses. Some sites praised the Iron Lady's leadership tactics, while others celebrated her death. Pushing to get "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" in the Top 40 charts hours after Thatcher's death is pretty tacky, but not completely surprising, given the history of most Thatcher-inspired songs.

Songs praising Margaret Thatcher are few and far between, so here are five songs from various genres about England's first female prime minister.

See also: Billy Bragg, Crescent Ballroom, 3/26/13

The Specials: "Maggie's Farm" Well he puts his cigar out in your face just for kicks His bedroom window it is made out of bricks And National Front stands behind closed doors

This British ska band transformed Bob Dylan's bluesy protest song into a protest against Thatcher. The Specials changed the National Guard lyric to National Front, which is England's fascist whites-only party.

Public Enemy: "Prophets of Rage" We have a reason why To debate the hate That's why we're born to die Mandela, cell dweller, Thatcher You can tell her clear the way for the prophets of rage Thatcher received flack from South Africans for calling the African National Congress "a typical terrorist organization." Public Enemy called her out in this song by linking her to Nelson Mandela as well as Denmark Vesey and Gabriel Prosser, who were part of the North American Slave Revolts.

 

UB-40: "Madame Medusa" See the scourge of innocence swinging in her hand Hear the silent suffering echoes through the land

This reggae group may be best known for "Red Red Wine," but the band's debut album featured also commentary on Thatcher and the National Front party. "Madame Medusa" gets more brutal as the song progresses, with the singer warning, "Run for your life before she eat you alive."

Billy Bragg: "Thatcherites" You privatize away what is ours, what is ours You privatize away what is ours You privatize away and then you make us pay Yeah, we'll take it back some day, mark my words, mark my words We'll take it back some day, mark my words

When Bragg performed at Crescent Ballroom a few weeks ago, he talked about how he participated in a protest that led to the downfall of the National Front. This English folk singer has written a couple of songs about Thatcher, but "Thatcherities" strongly resonates with the plight of the working class.

Bragg tweeted about her death Monday and told fans "the only real antidote to cynicism is activism."

Hefner: "The Day That Thatcher Dies" We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies, Even though we know it's not right, We will dance and sing all night.

Sound familiar? The saxophone in this upbeat rock song makes her death sound like a celebration more than a tragedy. This could also stem from the fact that "The Day That Thatcher Dies" sounds suspiciously similar to Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From." "The Day That Thatcher Dies" may also land a spot on the Top 40 chart, as it ends with the line, "ding dong, the witch is dead."


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