Singer Elvis Costello announced that he would no longer perform the song “Oliver’s Army” in concerts due to the racist epithet in the lyrics, and urged radio stations to skip the tune rather than play the censored version.
“If I were to write this song today, I might think twice about it,” a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame told The Telegraph.
This word is often used as an insult to blacks. However, in Costello’s song, it is used against a white man during the riots in Northern Ireland in the last century.
“It was a derogatory term for Irish Catholics, and I sang it to emphasize the point,” Costello told The Guardian in a separate interview. He told The Telegraph that the word was used against his family.
“That was the name of my grandfather in the British army – it’s a historical fact,” Costello said. “But people hear the word ring a bell and accuse me of something I didn’t mean.”
The 1979 song reached # 2 in the UK – its highest position – and remained on the chart for 12 weeks.
“On the last tour I wrote a new verse about censorship, but what’s the point? So I decided I wouldn’t play it, ”he told the Telegraph.
Costello also said that radio stations should skip the song entirely, rather than play the censored version that is often used now.
“They are likely to aggravate the situation by emitting beeps. Because they emphasize it then, ”he said. “Just don’t put on the record!”
Read the full interview here.
Costello’s new album, “The Boy Named If”, is due out on Friday and is scheduled to tour the UK with his band The Imposters in June.
He told the Guardian that although he ended up with Oliver’s Army 44 years later, fans can still expect to hear another favorite at the concert.
“Instead, I’ll sing ‘(What’s So Funny’ Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” Costello suggested.