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Elvis Costello gave a new interview with The Telegraph where he said he’d no longer be playing his biggest British hit, “Oliver’s Army,” live. The track, from his 1979 album with The Attractions Armed Forces, was written about the Northern Ireland conflict, and contains the line, “Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white n_____.”
“If I wrote that song today, maybe I’d think twice about it,” Costello told The Telegraph. “That’s what my grandfather was called in the British army – it’s historically a fact – but people hear that word go off like a bell and accuse me of something that I didn’t intend.”
“On the last tour, I wrote a new verse about censorship,” Costello continued, “but what’s the point of that? So I’ve decided I’m not going to play it.”
He also called for radio stations not to play the song, adding that bleeping out a word “is a mistake. They’re making it worse by bleeping it for sure. Because they’re highlighting it then. Just don’t play the record!”
“It would do me a favour,” he continued to The Telegraph. “Because when I fall under a bus, they’ll play ‘She,’ ‘Good Year for the Roses’ and Oliver’s Army.’ I’ll die, and they will celebrate my death with two songs I didn’t write. What does that tell you?”
Read the interview in full here.
Costello’s new album with The Imposters, The Boy Named If, is due out later this month, and you can watch the lyric video for the most recent single, “Farewell, OK,” below.
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