Elvis Costello has revealed he will no longer perform his biggest hit, Oliver’s Army, and has also asked radio stations to stop playing the song.

 

Written about the conflict in Northern Ireland, the lyrics contain a racial slur used to describe Irish Catholics.

 

“That’s what my grandfather was called in the British army – it’s historically a fact,” he told The Telegraph.

 

“But people hear that word… and accuse me of something that I didn’t intend.”

 

Released in 1979, Oliver’s Army was played unedited on radio stations for decades – but as the word became increasingly taboo, many took the decision to bleep the lyrics.

 

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On his last tour, Costello rewrote the song to address being “cut down by the censors”, singling out the BBC, which attracted criticism for editing the song in 2013.

“They’re making it worse by bleeping it, for sure,” he told The Telegraph. “Because they’re highlighting it then. Just don’t play the record!”

 

Costello added that radio stations will “do him a favour” by not playing the track again.

 

“Because when I fall under a bus, they’ll play She, Good Year for the Roses and Oliver’s Army,” he said.

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“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 performed by George Jones, while She was originally written and performed by Charles Aznavour.

 

Costello’s 1999 cover of She is his biggest song on streaming services, with 80 million plays on Spotify alone. Radio stations looking for Costello originals to play in his obituary could choose the 1977 singles Alison and Watching The Detectives, which are his next most-popular tracks.

He is not the only star to retire one of their biggest hits. Here are seven more examples.