“Ghost Town” by The Specials

“Ghost Town” is focused on the unstable status of Britain’s economy, particularly in 1981, the period in which it was written. The main issues it addresses are economic instability, unemployment and violence.

According to the singers, the said town which was previously noted for its industrial activities is being abandoned as majority of its people relocated to other places in search of employment. In the first seven lines, the narrator recalls how the town was initially filled with joy and people entertained themselves with music and dance. In doing so, he juxtaposes it to the current situation of the town which is dry, unprofitable and unstable. As a result, most of the businesses, particularly clubs and places of entertainment had been shut down.

The song further discusses the racial violence that was prevalent at the time especially among the youth. It also recalls how there were several protests and riots against Margaret Thatcher’s government due to the high unemployment rates.

Jerry Dammer talks about the Inspiration behind “Ghost Town”

Jerry Dammers, speaking about the song, mentioned to Radio X that it was inspired by the frustration, tension and anger felt by people living in Britain at the time. And these were brought on by the negative effects of Margaret Thatcher’s government policies.

“Ghost Town” Facts

  • Primary Artist(s): The Specials
  • Writing: Jerry Dammers
  • Production: John Collins
  • Year of Release: 1981
  • Album/EP: “Ghost Town”

Genre(s)

Purely a reggae song. Also considered to belong to the two-tone genre that originated from Britain.

Chart Performance

  • UK: 1
  • Ireland: 3

Atop Britain’s official singles chart it remained for 3 weeks until Shakin’ Stevens’ “Green Door” overthrew it.

Covers

Some notable singers that have produced different versions of the song include:

  • The Prodigy (2002)
  • Sammy Buzz (2012)

Honors

  • Melody Maker‘s “Single of the Year” (1981)
  • Named “Single of the Year” in 1981 by Sounds Magazine

Was “Ghost Town” a single?

Indeed. The song was recorded and released before the breakup of the group. It is one of the singles from the band’s album which had the same name.

Other singles from the aforementioned album include the following:

  • “Why?”
  • “Friday Night, Saturday Morning”

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