Elvis Costello vows to retire his provocative anti-war ‘Oliver’s Army’ because of racial slur

Elvis Costello vows to retire his provocative anti-war ‘Oliver’s Army’ because of racial slur

When Elvis Costello used a racial slur in his 1979 hit “Oliver’s Army,” the British rocker did it to send out an anti-war message — not promote racial divisions. But regardless of the context, Costello, now 67, has announced that he will no longer perform the song on stage. And he is asking radio stations to stop playing it, according to CNN.

“Oliver’s Army” became a hit during The Troubles, the violent conflicts that rocked Northern Ireland during the 1970s — when some residents of Northern Ireland (many of them Protestant) wanted to remain in the U.K. while others (many of them Catholic) wanted to leave the U.K. and become part of the Republic of Ireland to the south. Costello used the term “white n*****” in the song to describe soldiers who became cannon fodder in military conflicts while the affluent and the elite avoided combat. Some Brits, in those days, used the term to describe working-class White Americans who fought in the Vietnam War while more affluent Whites went to law school or medical school instead.

Costello told the Telegraph, “If I wrote that song today, maybe I'd think twice about it. 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.”

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