Elvis Costello has revealed that he will no longer perform his biggest hit, Oliver’s Legion, and has even asked radio stations to stop playing the song.
Written about the conflict in Northern Ireland, the song uses a racial slur to describe a British soldier: “Takes only one itchy trigger / Another widow, one less white [n-word],
“That’s what my grandfather was called into the British Army – it’s a fact historically,” he told The Telegraph, “but people hear that word … and accuse me of something I didn’t intend Was.”
Released in 1979, Oliver’s Army went unedited on radio stations for decades – but as the term became more taboo, many decided to discontinue the lyrics.
On his last tour, Costello rewrote the song to address “Censored Cut Down” while soloing to the BBC, which attracted criticism for editing the song in 2013.
“They are definitely making it worse by blipping it,” he told The Telegraph. “Because they’re highlighting it then. Just don’t play the record!”
Costello said that radio stations would “do him a favor” by not playing the track again.
“Because when I get under a bus, they’ll be playing Army of Shea, Good Year for the Roses, and Oliver,” he said.
“I will die, and they will celebrate my death with two songs I didn’t write. What does that tell you?”
Good Year for the Roses was written by Jerry Chesnut and performed by George Jones, while she was originally written and performed by Charles Aznavour.
Costello’s 1999 cover of She is his biggest song on streaming services, with 80 million plays on Spotify alone. Radio stations looking for a Costello original to play in his obituary can pick up on the 1977 single Alison and Watching the Detectives, his next most popular track.
He isn’t the only star to retire one of his biggest hits. Here are seven more examples.
1) The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
The Stones removed Brown Sugar from the setlist on the dates of last year’s No Filter Tour, following unease with sexual depictions of black women and references to slavery, sadomasochism, and heroin.
“Didn’t they understand that this was a song about the horrors of slavery?” They said.
Mick Jagger had mixed feelings about the song in early 1995, when he told Rolling Stone magazine: “I would never write that song again.
“I’ll probably censor myself. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t. I have to stop’. God knows what I’m doing about that song. It’s such a mishmash. All dirty subject at once.”
2) Paramore – Misery Business
In Paramore’s breakthrough single, singer Hayley Williams launched a scathing attack on her bandmate Josh Farrow’s high-school girlfriend.
,people never change“He spit.”Once a whore, you’re nothing more, I’m sorry, it’ll never change,
She decided to stop playing it live in 2018, saying that the band wanted to “move away” from the track because “calling someone a whore was not cool”.
In 2020, Williams also criticized Spotify for including the song in the Women in Rock playlist.
“I know this is one of the band’s biggest songs, but it shouldn’t be used to promote anything related to women’s empowerment or solidarity,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I’m so proud of Paramore’s career, it’s not a shame. It’s all about growth and progress… and although it will always be a fan favorite, we don’t need to add it to the playlist in 2020. “
3) Madonna – Material Girl and Like a Virgin
Not to mention the presence of the Queen of Pop, two songs that established and defined Madonna’s image in the 1980s.
“I’m not sure I could ever sing Like a Virgin again,” she told New York’s Z100 FM in 2008.
In a separate interview with US Weekly, she singled out Material Girl as her “least favorite” song, saying, “I never, ever want to hear it again.”
She later played both tracks in a radically altered form, playing both tracks on her 2016 Rebel Heart Tour, but has since been rested.
4) Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song
A relentlessly upbeat song about the joys of slacking off, it topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and the video garnered over two billion views on YouTube, but Mars later admitted: “I love that song. Hate.”
He stopped doing it in 2014. Five years later, he posted his reaction on Twitter to those who “really like” the song – a video of him staring straight into the camera and shaking his head in despair.
5) Prince – anything with profanity
Prince is almost single-handedly responsible for the parenting advisory stickers slapped on album covers in the 1980s.
Two of his songs, Darling Nikki and Sugar Walls (which he wrote for Sheena Easton) were proved wrong for a committee known as the Parents Music Resource Center, which then decided to label explicit material on any music released in the US. campaigned.
While those songs were clear without profanity, Prince’s tongue got worse as he found himself in competition with gangsta rap in the 1990s… with his cheeky funk work-out sexy MF (actually a penchant for monotony). Odie, but that’s another story).
But after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, Starr took the oath—and cast any curse words—from her concerts.
“Have you ever heard the curse on Muhammad Ali?” He asked Essence magazine in 2014. “Will you curse in front of your children? Your mother?”
6) Radiohead – Creep
Radiohead’s first hit single, Creep became a millstone around their neck, aligning them with the US grunge scene and, initially, marking them as one-hit wonders.
In early concerts, fans would request the song, then drop out as soon as it was finished.
Guitarist Johnny Greenwood told The Times in 1995, “It was like we were living the four-and-a-half minutes of our lives over and over again.” “It was incredibly silly.”
Things came to a head during the concerts for the band’s third album, OK Computer. At a show in Montreal, singer Thom Yorke gave fans a shout out to hear the song, “[Expletive] Off, we’re tired of it.”
It sealed the band’s reputation for hating best-selling hits… but really, they never stopped playing it. In fact, according to concert database Setlist.fm, it is Radiohead’s sixth most-played song of all time, making the cut of 405 of their shows to date.
7) REM – Shiny Happy People
Shiny Happy People was one of R.E.M.’s biggest hits when it debuted on their 1991 Out of Time album, but the infectious, sing-song melody quickly became a source of controversy for the group.
He only played it live twice (both times for TV shows), and dropped it off his 2003 greatest hits album, In Time.
Lead singer Michael Stipe later said that he had “limited appeal”, telling the TV show Space Ghost Coast to Coast, “I hate that song.”
But the band revived it for the last time in 1999, performing it on Sesame Street under the new title Happy, Furry Monsters.