Elvis Costello believes radio stations would “do (him) a favour” by retiring one of his most famous songs, Oliver’s Army.
The She hitmaker revealed in a recent interview with The Telegraph that he will no longer play the song on tour as the lyrics have not aged well. The 1979 track, which is about army and imperialism, features the N-word to describe a British private, with the lyrics: “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,” he told the publication. “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, but what’s the point of that? So, I’ve decided I’m not going to play it.”
The musician said that he would prefer radio stations to stop playing the song instead of bleeping out the offensive word.
“(That) 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!” the 67-year-old stated.
Costello added that they would be doing him “a favour” by retiring the song because it won’t be played when he passes away.
“It would do me a favour. Because when I fall under a bus, they’ll play She, Good Year for the Roses, and Oliver’s Army,” he lamented. “I’ll 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 originally recorded by George Jones, while She is a cover of a Charles Aznavour song.