Timeline 1900 – 2022

Embarrassment (1980)

The song Embarrassment by ska/pop band Madness was released as a single on November 14, 1980 and reached number 4 in the UK singles chart. Though many took it to be a light-hearted pop song in the vein of the group’s previous hits, the meaning behind the song was a sombre one. Primarily written by Lee Thompson, the plot of the song reflected the unfolding turmoil following the news that his teenage sister, Tracy Thompson, had become pregnant and was carrying a black man’s child. The subsequent rejection by her family, and the shame felt, was reflected in the song’s title and main refrain (‘you’re an embarrassment’).

The real-life story had a happy ending, however. Thompson later stated that when his niece Hayley was born, the antipathy of Tracy’s relatives dissolved.

Received a letter just the other day
don’t seem they wanna know you no more
they’ve laid it down given you their score
within the first two lines it bluntly read
You’re not to come see us no more
keep away from our door
don’t come round here no more
what on earth did you do that for?

Our Aunt she don’t wanna know she says
what will the neighbours think they’ll think
we don’t that’s what they’ll think we don’t
but I will ‘cos I know they think I don’t

Our uncle he don’t wanna know
he says we are a disgrace to the human race
he says how can you show your face
when you’re a disgrace to the human race

They’ve made a commitment you’re an embarrassment
yes an embarrassment a living endorsement
the intention that you have booked
was an intention that was overlooked

They say stay away
don’t want you home today
keep away from our door
don’t come around here no more
Our Dad he don’t wanna know he says
this is a serious matter
too late to reconsider
no one’s gonna wanna know ya

Our Mum she don’t wanna know she says
I’m feeling twice as old she says
thought she had her head on her shoulders
‘cos I’m feeling twice as older
I’m feeling twice as older

You’re an embarrassment