For what it’s worth, I agree with my friend Danielle from the UK (@DCPlod on Twitter), who penned this piece earlier today on the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I’ve never been one to dance on anybody’s grave, even the grave of a polarizing figure like Margaret Thatcher, who, along with Ronald Reagan, ushered in some pretty dark days indeed. I’ve buried enough of my own dead to know, there’s nothing to celebrate here. Death is death.
Still, you have to give the universe credit for its love of bitter irony. Mrs. Thatcher made it to the respectable age of 87, while her one of her sharpest critics, John Graham Mellor, better known as Joe Strummer, died of a heart attack a little over ten years ago at the unreasonably young age of 50. It’s things like this that lead me sincerely to hope that it’s all just entropy after all, and not the hand of some demonic god who just likes to screw with us.
In any event, while I eschew ghoulish celebrations on the deaths of political rivals, I’m not going to lie. I mourn the loss of a guy like Joe Strummer far more than I mourn the loss of any politician, even ones with whom I agree. Moreover, Joe and the Clash essentially recorded the soundtrack of my college and law school years, a time that, even as it disappears into the fog of middle age, frequently resonates in ways I don’t always anticipate.
So you’ll forgive me, then, even on the occasion of Ms. Thatcher’s passing, for digging this hoary old tune out of the late ’70s dustbin: “Groovy Times” from The Cost Of Living EP (1979), which was released, prophetically, on the day Thatcher was first elected Prime Minister. Like so many Clash songs, it seems perfectly to capture the economic despair of the times:
The High Street shops are boarded up
And the terrace, it is fenced in
See-through shields are walled across
The way that you came in
But there’s no need to get excited
As the lorries bring the bacon in
’Cause the housewives are all singing:
“Groovy times are here again!”
They discovered one Black Saturday
That mobs don’t march, they run (they run)
So you can excuse the nervous triggerman
Just this once for jumping the gun
They were picking up the dead
Out of the broken glass
“Yes, it’s Number One!” the radio said
“Groovy times have come to pass!”
Groovy times, indeed. Like the universe, Joe loved him some irony.
In a better world, maybe Joe Strummer would have had the last laugh, but that’s not the way it works.
So, hat’s off to you, Universe. You sick bastard.
[Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]