Music icon Elvis Costello asks radio station to stop playing one of his greatest hits over racial slur

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Rock music legend Elvis Costello says he will no longer perform one of his biggest hits, “Oliver’s Army,” and has urged radio stations to also stop playing it uncensored.  

The Associated Press/Richard Shotwell


The 1979 tune was inspired by the conflicts in Northern Ireland that occurred during the 1970s and uses a racial slur to describe a British soldier. The song has attracted criticism over recent years due to the use of the N-word.  

The song was played uncensored on the radio in the U.K. for decades until 2013 when it was bleeped by a BBC station, which drew widespread criticism from listeners 

“Only takes one itchy trigger; one more widow, one less white [expletive],” the song says.  


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In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Costello said he plans to go on tour over the summer, but will be omitting the popular song from his setlist.  

“If I wrote that song today, maybe I’d think twice about it,” he 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,” he said.  

“On the last tour, I wrote a new verse about censorship, but what’s the point of that? So I’ve decided I’m not going to play it,” Costello added.  

Costello said playing the song edited on the radio “is a mistake,” and added stations are making the song worse by bleeping it. 

“Because they’re highlighting it then. Just don’t play the record!” he said. 


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