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Elvis Costello Tramp The Dirt Down Lyrics

Last updated: 05/02/2014 07:53:35 PM

I saw a newspaper picture from the political
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
Oh 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 savour
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
Margeret [sic] 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
'Cos 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 never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference between
justice and contempt
Try telling me she isn't angry with this pitiful
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
'Cos when they finally put you in the ground
They'll stand there laughing and tramp the
dirt down

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totally agree | Reviewer: sandra | 5/2/14

its a shame that people have such short memories. she destroyed the fabric of many communities, i shed no tears for her or her family, they got rich out of the suffering of many families here in u.k and in south Africa. its disgusting that the British tax payers were expected to pay for her funeral.

JeanHertz you are obviously not British. | Reviewer: martin | 4/5/14

jean i find your lack of knowledge about British politics a shame, i feel you have swallowed the Tory lies hook, line and someone who lived and tried to find work throughout her suppression of the working classes, i find it quite sad that you feel she left the "UK in better shape" she sold off our national industries to her rich friends,sold our council houses cheap and refused to build more thus creating more money for her landlord chums, she introduced YTS schemes to make the unemployment figures look less.she introduced the poll tax (which in the end finished her). she agreed to pay policemen treble pay to go and break up the picket lines at the miners strikes, those miners where fighting for their lives,jobs,families and communities.she refused to impose sanctions on south Africa due to her husband Denis having millions invested there. she called nelson Mandela "no better than a terrorist" when her son mark was investigated for arms dealing!!!!. she was best friends with Reagan who was another war monger.
please lets not look at her life through rose tinted spectacles. tramp the dirt down is a fine song.

How subtle | Reviewer: JeanHertz | 1/28/14

Costello must have been really short on arguments to write such a vicious ad hominem attack. Costello is a musical giant, but politically, he's always been an ass.
Thatcher was reelected twice, and confortably, so it seems not everyone thought she was destroying the country. She took back the Falklands because the islands had been invaded through an unprovoked agression, so that doesn't make Thatcher a new Hitler. Likewise, Costello can't stand Israel defending itself, so we start to see a pattern there.
In any case, the UK was in much better shape when Thatcher left than when she became PM. Leftists will never forgive her for that.

i agree with iwasthere | Reviewer: damnright | 11/16/13

i have no sympathy for her, she destroyed British industry, she was not some saintly woman who put the good of the working classes on a par with the middle and upper classes.she tried to destroy the working man/woman "lest we get too big for our boots" its disgusting that we ,the tax payer paid for her funeral, she should of been buried in the bottom of a coal mine so she had eternity to think about how she destroyed the lives and communities of miners. god had nothing to do with her she was all devil.

glad shes gone. | Reviewer: iwasthere | 9/29/13

i lived through her contempt for the working classes both as a schoolboy and as a young man trying to find work. she was a truly evil woman and the world is a better place without her.she refused to impose sanctions on south Africa because her husband had millions of pounds invested it their corrupt society, they wanted to suppress the black mans civil rights over there and thatcher wanted to suppress the working class over here.Minorkle this is nothing to do with god, god didn't give him talent!! he worked at it! you might as well say god made thatcher an evil,hate-full woman, likewise she worked at it.

Had no idea what this song was about. | Reviewer: Wayne | 5/16/13

So sad really. The human race needs repentance and to submit to God instead of money. You cannot serve two masters God & Money.
I like the sounds of the song. The story is rather deep and sad.

So Brilliant and so right | Reviewer: David.S | 4/25/13

Thatcher hated working people and helped people with money.She helped lay the foundation of the banking crisis by beliving in deregulation and allowing it.She thought we did not need heavy industry,shut our mines and started our need to import coal and gas.

margaret thatcher was a political whore | Reviewer: mark r | 4/20/13

After Margaret Thatcher was relieved of her position as P.M. She accepted a position within 5 weeks as a spokesperson for the TOBACCO INDUSTRY ----- All the misery, manipulation, lying, and torturous death that the tobacco industry denied before the American Congress was exposed by a whistle blower 60 minutes --- leading to the recovery of industry out light lies and manipulation in the name of MONEY...... The fact that Margaret Thatcher accepted MONEY to prostitute her name as their spokesperson should give any one on this forum insight into her true political motives while in power.

anger & music | Reviewer: pi | 4/14/13

Bile and anger about a gifted politica that was a driven sociopath is completely allowed. I agree that it's not one of his best songs. But then, emotions are allowed to take over. He has written sufficiently other good songs. And maybe Tatcher doesn't deserve his best art.

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Thatcher. You sleep well too, E.C. | Reviewer: cowsrmom | 4/8/13

When I heard that Margaret Thatcher had a stroke and died this morning, I remembered this song immediately and I wondered how Elvis feels today. The lyrics have haunted me over the years. Not knowing much about the political views of the English, I listened hard and knew I would not forget the absolute hatred these lyrics portrayed and wished I could've related to the anger so I could've at least tried to understand. I likened the strong feelings to our own feelings about the political system in my own country, the U.S. where we are vocal about our feelings and so far, free to expound upon them. Though I would never go so far as to say in black and white, in public, that I would love to gloat over the death of anyone, I do understand the powerful emotions that people have toward politicians and their political platforms. They must be a different breed to be able to decide ultimately who will prosper and who will not and like Elvis says, still be able to sleep at night.

Costello is warped but talented | Reviewer: ovis | 12/3/12

I did not know much about the Thatcher years and this song inspired me to read more about them. I have learned since, that I do not much trust Mr. Mcmanus' political opinions. when he cancelled his concert in Israel as a protest against Israel's so called occupation I realized that I will never agree with him politically. It made me wonder if Maggie was really such an angry bird after all.

Not so much a call to arms as a brooding reflection. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/6/10

Was Costello justified in writing this song? In my opinion, absolutely.

Is it a good critique? In drawing together such emotive images in such a direct manner Costello deviated from his more "clever" lyrical tenancies and met his subject head on with as much fury and bile as I have ever head expressed.

Powerful, moving and emotive, with no room for ambiguity - this is one of Costello's most haunting and memorable songs and fairly unique in his repertoire. As a traditional protest song it fails, but that was not the intention. This song is not a call to arms, but a brooding reflection on the misery and hate that had come to predominate the lives of many.

Thatcher destroyed a generation of this countries youth.

My mother taught in a secondary school in a mining community in the 1980s and saw it happen.

Compared to many, and by that I mean several million people in the UK, Elvis Costello's view of Maggie Thatcher is mild.

One reviewer identified Thatcher as brilliant. She was indeed, but achieving what the Luftwaffe failed to do in the blitz can hardly be considered so in the positive sense. (do not imagine I am blind or ill informed either - When she came to power Britain had stagnated and needed change - Thatcher managed to achieve it, what was remarkable were her methods that so effectively made the rich richer whilst being directly responsible for destroying millions of peoples lives, coupled with the message that those lives were of no worth and it was no business of the government to do anything to help them. She also got lucky with North Sea oil and gas which she used to cripple the mining industry. Arguments will always rage about her time as PM but for the millions who lost all they had that is too late, where as those who made millions can always loose it at a later date)

<p.s. I will be part of that long que to tram the dirt down on her grave, but there's a plenty in front of me who have far better reason>

Where was Minorkle in the 80s? | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/18/08

Not in a run down city. Not in a mining community. not listening to the "There's no such thing as society" rhetoric. Not watching the credit deregulation that led us to a Crunch. Not in manufacturing. not watching council houses sold and not replaced, to people who couldn't afford the mortgage, leading to repossesion. not learning about how the foreign office led Argentina to believe she would let the islands go. not using policy to rebuild manufacturing. Thatcher did some good stuff, and some bad stuff. The Poll Tax led to devolution, which has increased the cost of administration and is feeding nationalism. It will break up the UK eventually. From 79 to 97 they let education and health slowly corrode. No party is all right. No leeader should stay so long. Washington was right

So Cruel | Reviewer: Minorkle | 4/18/08

This is not Elvis at his best. His hatred of Margaret Thatcher inspired this vicious wish for her demise and then cruel gloating. We all have bad days but this is absurd. Why God would give Elvis have so much talent and then allow him to defame a great woman is a mystery.

So Brilliant and so wrong | Reviewer: Minorkle | 4/18/08

"Tramp The Dirt Down" is not a rational protest song, nor is it a well thought-out political manifesto. Its message is simple and direct-- the Margaret Thatcher is evil, and Elvis would take pleasure in her ultimate demise. Isn't it odd that so brilliant a musician such as Elvis could misunderstand the brilliance of Thatcher. It was as bitter and savage as anything Costello had ever written, because Costello took the unusual step of actually naming names. When Costello released his anti-Tory diatribe "Pills And Soap" in 1983, he told a concerned BBC censor that the song was about cruelty to animals. There could be no clever parsing of words with this song, which included the memorable line, "When England was the whore of the world, Margaret was her Madam." This song was not Elvis at his finest. Unfortunately he let his misguided political leanings defame a great Woman. She was kind enough to not respond to him in kind.

Clearly a cathardic lambasting of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her policies. Costello has long been a vocal critic of hers and once even remarked that "She doesn't have a soul. She will burn in hell." Unfortunately Elvis hate can lead him to hell but no other.