Today I thought I’d share this great song “Oliver’s Army” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. It was released in February 1979 and got to number 2 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts.
It has been suggested that the title refers to Oliver Cromwell, whose “new model army” wreaked terror on much of the British Isles, in particular Ireland.
Don’t start me talking
I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I’m putting the world to right
Called careers information
Have you got yourself an occupation?
Oliver’s army is here to stay
Oliver’s army are on their way
And I would rather be anywhere else
But here today
There was a checkpoint Charlie
He didn’t crack a smile
But it’s no laughing party
When you’ve been on the murder mile
Only takes one itchy trigger
One more widow, one less white nigger
Hong Kong is up for grabs
London is full of Arabs
We could be in Palestine
Overrun by a Chinese line
With the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne
But there’s no danger
It’s a professional career
Though it could be arranged
With just a word in Mr. Churchill’s ear
If you’re out of luck or out of work
We could send you to Johannesburg
There’s recently been a bit of controversy over the use of the “n-word” in this song, with the BBC censoring it. But, if you read the words carefully you will realise that this is an anti-war and <anti-colonialism song, so others argue that the use of the “n-word” is justified in this context, which is that it is apparently a pejorative term that the British army used for the Irish in Northern Ireland.
Which is your favourite Elvis Costello song?