Elvis Costello and Thatcherism : A Psycho-Social Exploration book cover
1st Edition

Elvis Costello and Thatcherism
A Psycho-Social Exploration

ISBN 9781138267077
Published November 23, 2016 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

The emergence of Thatcherism around 1980, which ushered in a period of neo-liberalism in British politics that still resonates today, led musicians, like other artists, to respond to their context of production. This book uses the early work of one of these musicians, Elvis Costello, to explore the relationship between popular music and politics in one historical period. It is not a biography but an exploration of the interaction between a creative musician's works and their context of constraint and opportunity. Pilgrim and Ormrod unpack the political meaning of Thatcherism and deal with matters arising in that political context about Costello's life but which had resonance for many others at the time (and still do). These topics include the politics of race, class, gender and ageing, emphasising the recurring theme of nostalgia in modern and post-modern life. Throughout the book examples are provided of Costello's songs and how they work musically to illustrate or stimulate the contextual discussion. The book will be of significant interest to musicologists, sociologists and social psychologists.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Thatcher and Costello: setting the scene; Interpreting Costello’s early music; Nostalgia denied; Race and nation; The special relationship with the USA; The post-feminist context; The music industry; Costello and postmodernism; Macbeth at the foam party; References; Index.

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David Pilgrim has a mixed academic background in clinical psychology and medical sociology and has a particular interest in linking biographies and social contexts, using interdisciplinary resources in social science. He is widely published, with over 60 journal articles to his name. His recent books include Key Concepts in Mental Health, Second Edition (2009) and, with Anne Rogers, A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness, Fourth Edition (2009). The third edition of the latter won the BMA's Medical Book of the Year for 2006. He is Professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of Liverpool. Richard Ormrod is a musician, educator, composer and writer. He performs on several instruments in a wide variety of styles and enjoys devising new performance/recording projects, such as Home of the Brave and A Dread Supreme, which investigate, respectively, the soundtrack to Western movies and influences on Jamaican popular music. As an educator he directs several community orchestras, with particular emphasis on aural learning and improvisation. In 2012 he was awarded Jazz Yorkshire ’Musician of the Year’ and lives and works in Leeds.


’This is a book full of rich and original arguments ... and it provides insightful perspectives on popular culture’s relationship to Thatcherism in the 1980s as well as its continuing legacy.’ Popular Music