It’s another Monday and another piece of my Elsehere soundtrack: Ghost Town by The Specials
The Specials were a band from Coventry who were a part of the 2Tone/ska revival movement of the late 70s and early 80s. Their commercial heyday was with their first incarnation but after a few splits and line up changes they’re still going strong. Ghost Town was one of their two UK no.1 hit singles.
The fact that this song’s become attached to the Elsehere is a bit of a reflection of the world events going on around me as I was writing, but it’s also part of the background for one of the characters which is why it gets to sneak in here.
So first, the music. It’s got a reggae beat and the big brass of a lot of the 2Tone music but slowed down and with a melody that uses a minor key, the so-called devil’s chord and a very eery organ part to help build the atmosphere. If there was an instrumental version of this I would absolutely adore it as-is – and it would probably have become a part of the Elsehere soundtrack anyway because it is the perfect bit of music for writing about abandoned places.
But then you get to the lyrics which are an encapsulation of the early 80s in urban Britain. Unrest, unemployment and a government doing nothing to help (or doing things that actively made the problems worse). It’s a very sharply observed piece of writing and got all the plaudits when it was released. The fact that this song once more fits the UK, forty years later is depressing.
And it’s the events the song talks about that make it a character piece. Joelle Haynes was a teenager through the early 80s and this song is very much a snapshot of where she came from and the building blocks of who she is now.
The Elsehere Soundtrack on Spotify has been updated to add this in.
That’s all for now. Happy reading!