The Curse of the Thrashing Doves: How Margaret Thatcher Killed a Band

By on September 8, 2015

Creative types may shudder at the thought of Donald Trump actually having a shot at the White House and becoming the leader of the free world. (Actually, it should be more than creative types; everyone should be concerned. Really.) But putting politics aside, we might also want to pray that he wins.

The Donald is one of the most polarizing political figures since Margaret Thatcher. Both have penchant for painting things in black and white, no shading allowed. Both like to demonize their enemies. Both have a rock-solid belief in their own convictions.

If The Iron Lady is anything to go by, Trump would be a great musical inspiration. Penny Rimbaud of anarcho-punk radicals Crass told The Guardian, “I think Thatcher was an absolute fairy godmother. Christ, you’re an anarchist band trying to complain about the workings of capitalist society and you get someone like Thatcher. What a joy!”

Consider some of  the songs Thatcher inspired:

The English Beat’s “Stand Down Margaret”…

…”(Celebrate) The Day After You” by the Blow Monkeys…

…Morrissey’s “Margaret on the Guillotine”…

…and Elvis Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down.”

The Clash’s The Cost of Living EP was released on election day 1979 and Joe Strummer wanted the cover to feature a collage with Thatcher’s face and a swastika.

Polarizing politicians like Thatcher and Trump are creative sparks for musicians. Hey, some of the best music comes out of those periods when there’s a Republican in the White House and a Conservative at 10 Downing. But under no circumstances do you want these people to identify themselves as a fan of your music. Never.

During the run up to the 1987 UK general election, Mrs. Thatcher was on a BBC radio show called Saturday Superstore. Listeners were invited to call in with various questions including “In the event of a nuclear war, where will you be?”  That was followed by the music segment where she was asked to listen and then rate a couple of songs of the day. She gave a big thumbs down to “Heartache” by Pepsi and Shirlie because “it didn’t sound like heartache at all.” She declared she’d never dance to it either because it “lacked melody.”

Up next was “Beautiful Imbalance” by Thrashing Doves, an indie band which was threatening to do something rather interesting and had already opened some shows for the still-hot Duran Duran.

That song found much favour with Mrs. Thatcher, which she expressed to the nation with great delight.

Uh-oh.

The song stalled at #50 on the charts before disappearing into obscurity and sinking the Thrashing Doves’ career. “Heartache,” on the other hand, made it all the way to #2.  The Doves’ dive at the hands of Mrs. Thatcher is still known as “The Curse of the Thrashing Doves.”

As for Trump, even before he launched his run for the White House, he was inspiring musicians. In fact, genius.com, the site that specializes in lyrics annotation, says Trump has been mentioned more than 400 times in songs and interviews. His name is used in hip hop and rap songs as shorthand for being rich and arrogant. Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller’s 2011 hit “Donald Trump” is nearing 100 million hits on YouTube.

The specter of President Trump is inspiring other musicians. Josh Groban set some of his craziest tweets to music on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Ricky Martin has attacked Trump as racist.

But hey, if he ever wants any of those people to shut up, maybe all he has to do is tell everyone how much he likes their songs. Meanwhile, though, it’s possible that we can look forward to a new rock’n’roll renaissance thanks to The Donald. He’ll take credit for that, of course.

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