A Song and a Story: “Ghost Town” #AtoZChallenge


Today’s tune is one I discovered serendipitously and seek out to make it mine.  It’s by the UK 2-Tone ska band The Specials and it’s called:

Ghost Town

I spent a portion of my teenage years living in the past, taking deep dives into Classic Rock from the 1960s, and avoiding anything contemporary.  By my junior year though, I was ready to once again be a man of my times, and since some of my good friends listened to what we were still calling “New Wave” at the time, I started listening to their favorite radio station, WDRE.  Broadcasting from Long Island, the radio signals carried WDRE across the Sound to eager young Connecticutians seeking refuge from Top 40 and Classic Rock.  WDRE refered to their format simply as “Modern Rock,” and the bands they played included Erasure, Depeche Mode, Morrissey (so much Morrissey), New Order, Midnight Oil, Jane’s Addiction, R.E.M., The Replacements, and They Might Be Giants.  No one would think  of any of these bands as obscure today, but in 1990 they were hard to acess anywhere else.

So there I was laying on my bed one sunny afternoon listening to WDRE, and the DJ played a song by a band I’d never heard before that blew my mind.  It was “Ghost Town” by The Specials. I HAD to have this song and since we didn’t have the World Wide Web back then and other resources were limited, it meant trying my luck at the local record store.  I checked under “Rock” – no Specials.  I checked under “Reggae” – no specials.  I check under “World Music” – no Specials.  Finally, on a whim, I decided to look in the racks of compilations, and stumbled on a tape called This Are Two-Tone. It had my song by The Specials and many more from UK bands that played a music called ska.  And it turns out, it wasn’t anything new. I was about a decade late.

For the next several years, well into my college days, I accumulated ska music – the original Jamaica ska, 2 Tone Ska from the UK in the 70s & 80s, and some more contemporary stuff like Fishbone and Bim Skala Bim. Oddly enough my enthusiasm for ska music was tempered the fact that by the mid-1990s, ska had widespread popularity in the United States.  Except this Third Wave ska (as it was called) sounded more like a bunch of white bros who liked to go to the beach and get drunk than the ska I loved.

Returning to “Ghost Town,” it’s still a remarkable song.  The spooky vocal effects make it a popular Halloween track.  But listen to the lyrics and its a stark depiction of the poverty, decay, and desolation of England under Thatcherism.  And that trombone solo by Rico slays me every time.  It’s still blows me away to this day.


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

5 thoughts on “A Song and a Story: “Ghost Town” #AtoZChallenge

  1. Love “Ghost Town,” and the Specials. We went to see their last show in the U.S. before they broke up in the Bradford Ballroom. Followed British Two-tone and ska in the 70s and 80s, danced to them ,went to see them live whenever we could: The Specials, The (English) Beat, Gang of Four, the Selecter. . .well of course the Clash and UB 40; Rock Against Racism. I’ll listen to Ghost Town now. Coming to my mind is the Specials’ rendition of “Enjoy Yourself (Its Later than You Think)”; must listen to that, too. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We too saw Dave Wakeling’s English Beat–at the Iron Horse in Northampton a few years ago. So sad to hear of Ranking Roger’s death. I remember seeing the original Beat at the Channel in Boston back in the 80s. (And then again somewhere else in the Boston area–on the Special Beat Service tour.) When they sang “Stand Down Margaret” it was positively spine-chilling.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. PS – what is that in your picture – it’s so pretty and yellow (I only wear yellow atm as that is the colour of my glasses),but I can’t make out what it is at all!

    Like

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