MUSIC Video: The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’ Reflects A Period Of Economic Unrest, That Has Come Full Circle

by on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1981, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies — marked by austerity, deregulation, union-busting, and privatization — pummeled the economy with an 11.3% unemployment rate, and riots erupted literally everywhere in the UK, spreading from city to city, town to town.

This was the political climate in which The Specials released their amazing 3-song EP, with ‘Ghost Town’ as its single. With two albums under their belt — an absolutely incredible self-titled debut LP, and a remarkable follow up, More Specials; both infusing upbeat Jamaican Ska with the raw energy of punk — the band allowed its sound to evolve with ‘Ghost Town‘.

The song injects a subdued, haunting, almost middle-eastern melody with sparse, dark, post-apocalyptic lyrics, evoking the surreal imagery of a downtrodden urban wasteland. 

Jerry Dammers reveals his inspiration for writing the song:

There was a riot in Brixton about a year before the record came out. I was writing the song partly about that. Also, Britain was falling apart. The car industry was closing down in Coventry. We were touring, so we saw a lot of it. Liverpool and Glasgow were particularly bad. The overall sense I wanted to convey was impending doom.

It remained #1 in the charts for three weeks, having charted the very day after riots began to spread, making the song something of an anthem for that era. But, listening to the lyrics, you might think they were singing about 2012.

Ghost Town:

YouTube Preview Image

 LYRICS:

This town, is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place, is coming like a ghost town
Bands won’t play no more
too much fighting on the dance floor

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown

This town, is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry 

This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town
This town, is coming like a ghost town

by Jerry Dammers/2 Tone Records

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