When Chumbawamba Released an Album Celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s Death
On April 8, 2013, 87-year-old Margaret Thatcher passed away after a stroke at London’s Ritz Hotel. As media outlets and public figures reacted to the news with staid, measured reflections on her polarizing political legacy, British punk rock band Chumbawamba added a musical tribute to the mix: an EP called In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher. It wasn’t somber.
Though the band is probably best remembered for their 1997 hit “Tubthumping,” its members were also well-known for leveraging their platform to promote anti-establishment views. In 1998, for example, singer Alice Nutter made headlines for encouraging fans who couldn’t afford Chumbawamba albums to pilfer them from major music retailers. “If you get caught, just tell the store detective that you have the full support of the band,” she wrote on the band’s website.
The Iron Lady, with her unyielding Conservative agenda, represented basically everything that Chumbawamba opposed—and they considered her eventual death something to celebrate. So, in the early 2000s, they recorded an EP that did just that. According to Fact magazine, it was first available to pre-order at concerts in 2005, and the pre-sale moved online in April 2009. The physical album was “already recorded, pressed, and ready to go,” the band announced, but it wouldn’t be sent out until Thatcher actually died. When that finally happened four years later, the CDs were mailed almost immediately, and the songs hit YouTube not long after that.
The 10-minute EP begins with a recording of Thatcher’s memorable line “The lady’s not for turning,” followed by a staticky instrumental version of “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. The album’s two full-length tracks include “So Long, So Long,” a smooth, 1940s-inspired song that features the lyrics “You got your one-way ticket to hell / My, my, oh well;” and “Waiting for Margaret to Go,” a folksy offering with a similar (and similarly unsubtle) message.
And if anyone somehow still questioned the sincerity of that message, Chumbawamba laid all doubts to rest with an even more direct statement on their website. “This is a cause to celebrate, to party, to stamp the dirt down,” they wrote, reported by The Independent. “If we must show a little reverence and decorum at this time, then so be it. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all Margaret Thatcher’s victims.”
[h/t The Independent]