Song of the Day: Elvis Costello “Shipbuilding”

With the passing of Margaret Thatcher, many people are revisiting the early 80s; discussing national economic policies, entitlements, and war. I think immediately of the creative flowering of music in Britain and America in response to that climate. Rather than focusing on anger at the shutdown of industry, and the suffering of working class communities, Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding” explores the situation with mournful beauty. The Falklands War offered a weak promise of new manufacturing with the cost of the lives of sailors and soldiers. The melody is by Clive Langer and Costello called these “the best lyrics I’ve ever written”. Trumpet on this track is by none other than Chet Baker.

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