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Songs: The Fight For History

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<a href="http://mjhibbett.bandcamp.com/track/the-fight-for-history">The Fight For History by MJ Hibbett &amp; The Validators</a>
They're saying Ronald Reagan was the Master Of Diplomacy
'Cos he ended the Cold War with only Thatcher there to help him
They say he led the world in times that were more optimistic
I don't know about you but that is not how I remember it
The constant crushing certainty of nuclear oblivion
Was ended by East Germans in Berlin not politicians
When warmongers seek credit for a peace they didn't want
They've one eye on the history books, the other's on the clock

Well I was there and I will not forget
The fight for history begins the day that Thatcher is dead

The two-faced slip-on socialists who helped her stay in power
Are riding round in company cars charging a thousand pounds an hour
To reassure the wage slaves who think they're the wage slaves' masters
That they're modern and creative whilst behind the drums beat faster
And we've all got to pretend that we now like Edwina Currie
And that Steven Norris wasn't a corrupt adulterous bully
All the smiling lying psychopaths we finally deposed
Are now creeping into reality TV and phone-in shows

Well I was there and I will not forget
The fight for history begins the day that Thatcher is dead

Down in Soho all the preening pamphlet-headed peacocks
Try to make out it's iconic wearing Council-hair and pop-socks
And paint the Eighties as an age of decadence and glamour
As if the miners' strike, the poll tax and BSE never happened
As if Section 28 was never passed into the law
As if Osama Bin Laden wasn't paid to fight our wars
As if the institutionalised weren't turfed onto the streets
Into a new society they said did not exist

Well I was there and I will not forget
The fight for history begins the day that Thatcher is dead
And if you think it's past and put to bed
You wait until the wave of lies the day that Thatcher is dead

We will fight for history on the day that Thatcher's dead


Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

As you could probably guess from the lyrics to this song, it was written in 2004 shortly after Ronald Reagan died. As you can probably guess from the lyrics of most of my other songs, I was born in 1970 and grew up during the height of the Cold War over which Reagan and Thatcher reined supreme, and so spent an extremely jolly adolescence (sarcasm) convinced that at any moment the planet would be consumed in a nuclear war.

You can imagine, then, that I was a little annoyed when nearly all the reports of his life portrayed him as a great statesmen in favour of peace and love who bestrode world affairs like a kindly grandfather, leading us all into a beautiful future. This always seems to happen when old politicians die - I'm thinking especially of Enoch Powell's death, when commentators went out of their way NOT to call him a vile old racist - but this one seemed more pernicious. It seemed to me that it was part of an ongoing process by The Establishment to try and re-write the history of the eighties, highlighting the supposed "glamour" of those years and ignoring the horror and the misery of that bloody awful decade.

For instance, the other week I watched an episode of the "Tory Tory Tory" documentary series which featured interviews with several veterans of the time glibly justifying their actions in an attempt to force history to paint them as heroes. Of particular note was Michael Dobbs claiming "changing society isn't meant to be comfortable!" while sitting in a VERY comfortable room in his house looking extremely plump, well fed and comfortable. There was also Edwina Currie saying that the miners in her constituency didn't go on strike because they "wanted to be on the winning side!" She said this with a look of enormous self-satisfaction all over her face. How did they win, exactly, Edwina? They still lost their jobs, didn't they?

Similarly, every time there's an Eighties retrospective on the telly they interview fashion nitwits and popstars of the time, who all claim it was a "fabulous" era of colour and glamour and artistic expression. Of course, they would say that, they made tons of money out of it, but for most of us it was a grim time of hopelessness, crap telly and Big Fun in the charts.

So yes, there's a lot of that sort of thing about, and I expect that this Historical Denial will be as nothing compared to the bullshit and lies we'll get when Thatcher finally dies, and if those of us who remember what really happened allow them to get away with it there'll come a time when the history's finished being written and the whole thing will be allowed to happen again.

So I wrote a song about it! The only downside of all this Righteous Anger is that for the past year and a half I must have been one of the very few people in the country who've seen Thatcher looking knackered and sickly on the television and thought "Come on Thatcher! Live a bit longer!" as we'd look a bit daft if the song came out when she was in the grave and off to Hell. It was especially hard when Mark Thatcher was arrested for plotting a coup, and I was hoping the stress wouldn't be too much for her...

In order to hedge my bets I've played the song live rather a lot since I've written it, and it's been a strange experience as the majority of my audiences have been a lot younger than me. This isn't because I naturally attract THE YOUTH or anything, it's just because most people my age have packed in going to gigs by now. It's a strange experience to stand on stage singing songs about something which feels so current and relevant to me, in front of adults who were only toddlers when it was all happening. Sometimes it feels like a history lesson, sometimes it feels like Folk Music, but sometimes I see people my age with a gleam in their eye when I sing it, and it's always lovely to talk to them afterwards. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels like his adolescence is being re-written.

The Validators are all old sods like me, so they got right into it from the off, and we've always really enjoyed playing this song. Early on in rehearsals we all put our Serious Faces on and got into it, with Tim and Frankie especially playing Meaningfully during the first verse. "I like what you're doing there" I told them. "It symbolises impending Nuclear War", they said.

That's what it's like when we practice you know - serious political discussion at all times.

It was recorded pretty easily in Cornwall, the only problem being me yelping "the day that Thatcher's dead" along with Emma at the end, which sounded a bit dodgy. We always get worked up when we play this one, and the recorded version had, we thought, a particularly good end section, so we needed to have something on there to make it worth sticking around for. I remember The Validators telling me, gently, over the studio intercom that maybe I should try something different over the ending "because that sounds crap", and my dears it was like a Rock Biography Film, as I played a couple of bars of the song then said "Hmm... how about something like this?" and sang the "we will fight for history..." bit. Emma was up in the house at that point but the Men were in the control room, so we seized the moment and got us all in there and then to sing it. It felt like being a Proper Band - me and Tim did our versions, then Rob and Tom came skipping in to take their turns, each of them humming a harmony as he came in.

We had really good fun doing it, and then we did the drunken singing at the end of The Advent Calendar of FACT while we were in the mood, as it'd just gone Beer O'Clock...

Finally, yes, I have heard the Hefner song, but only since we recorded this one. I really like it, but I think our song has something a bit different to say - hopefully there will come a time when we BOTH get played, over and over, on the nation's air waves. I hope to be too drunk too appreciate it fully.


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