I saw a newspaper picture from the political campaign
A woman was kissing a child, who was obviously in pain
She spills with compassion, as that young child's face
In her hands she grips
Can you imagine all that greed and avarice
Coming down on that child's lips

Well I hope I don't die too soon
I pray the Lord my soul to save
Yes I'll be a good boy, I'm trying so hard to behave
Because there's one thing I know, I'd like to live
Long enough to savor
That's when they finally put you in the ground
I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down

When England was the whore of the world
Margaret was her madam
And the future looked as bright and as clear
As the black tarmacadam
Well I hope that she sleeps well at night,
Isn't haunted by every tiny detail
When she held that lovely face in her hands
All she thought of was betrayal

And now the cynical ones
Say that it all ends the same in the long run
Try telling that to the desperate father
Who just squeezed the life from his only son
And how it's only voices in your head
And dreams you've never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference
Between justice and contempt

Try telling me she isn't angry
With this pitiful discontent
When they flaunt it in your face
As you line up for punishment
And then expect you to say thank you
Straighten up, look proud and pleased
Because you've only got the symptoms,
You haven't got the whole disease

Just like a schoolboy,
Whose head's like a tin-can
Filled up with dreams then poured down the drain
Try telling that to the boys on both sides,
Being blown to bits or beaten and maimed
Who takes all the glory and none of the shame

Well I hope you live long now,
I pray the Lord your soul to keep
I think I'll be going before
We fold our arms and start to weep
I never thought for a moment
That human life could be so cheap
But when they finally put you in the ground
They'll stand there laughing and tramp the dirt down

Lyrics submitted by Fauxpoet

"Tramp the Dirt Down" as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Tramp the Dirt Down song meanings
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    General CommentThis is definitely one of my favorites on Spike - in my opinion it blows "Veronica" out of the water. I understand why it wasn't released as a single though...

    Lyrically, I'm impressed with Elvis' use of unexpected rhymes like "imagine/compassion" and "detail/betrayal". But I'm most impressed by the ironic twist that provides a little of his signature dark humor at the end of the song - after lambasting Margaret Thatcher for her lack of regard for human life and then laughing at her death, he remarks "I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap!"

    Its like he's reminding her that her life is just as cheap as anyone's who was sent to war for her policies.

    Now, as an American, I have a few questions for the Brits out there (or anyone else who might know):

    1) Was there actually such a picture published of Margaret Thatcher kissing a grimacing child?
    2) Was this song not considered libel because he only says "Margaret" and never reveals her last name, despite the heavy insinuations?
    3) What is the "The black tarmacadam"?
    4) Does "this pitiful discontent" refer to this song? Or something broader?

    In today's context I can't get Sarah Palin (and her "special needs" baby) out of my mind when I listen to this song.
    jsaulon September 26, 2009   Link

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