Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Baggy Trousers” — Madness (1980)

Naughty boys in nasty schools
Headmasters breaking all the rules
Having fun and playing fools
Smashing up the woodwork tools

All the teachers in the pub
Passing ’round the ready-rub
Trying not to think of when
The lunch-time bell will ring again…

Ahh, Madness. Welcome back lads. You’re always welcome ’round all parts Hokeyblog at Halloweentime. Always.

The British ska/pop group from the 80s is pretty much only known by mainstream Americans for their 1983 smash Our House, and while I won’t claim to be a deep-cut album fan by any stretch, I do love so many of their lesser known hits. There’s always an element of playfulness, good-natured prankster glee, and rogue boyish mischief.

And what puts the “trick” in “Trick or Treat” better than rogue boyish mischief? Which of course brings us right to their 1980 hit Baggy Trousers, a wickedly delightful slice of British schoolboy shenanigans and the drunken fed-up school staff who have to put up with them.

The song itself is all kinds of delight: uptempo, bass-driven, playful keyboard lines that seem to invoke childhood mischief and adult exasperation all at once. “Oh what fun we had”, indeed. This song is nothing BUT pure fun, because when is breaking rules and getting in trouble never a hoot and a half? This is the literal soundtrack to TP’ing a house or poop-bombing a doorstep.

Baggy Trousers comes in and out quickly, just like the kid you just missed with a carton of rotten eggs and a glorious desire for chaos. Don’t worry; he’ll grow up to be your chiropodist.

Oh what fun we had
But, did it really turn out bad
All I learnt at school
Was how to bend not break the rules

Oh what fun we had
But at the time it seemed so bad
Trying different ways
To make a difference to the days

Baggy trousers, baggy trousers, baggy trousers…

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