Elvis Costello has announced he will retire his biggest chart hit Oliver’s Army because the lyrics include a racial slur that connects to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Born Declan Patrick McManus, the singer gained popularity in the post-punk new-wave scene in the mid-to-late 1970s and has won numerous awards in his career, including several Grammys.

During a recent interview about his new album The Boy Named If, Costello revealed he will stop playing Oliver’s Army in live shows.

Here’s more about his decision and the background of the song.

JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Thursday, September 30 included Charlize Theron (“The Addams Family 2”), Elvis Costello (“Words + Music”), and musical guest Elvis Costello and Juanes. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) ELVIS COSTELLO

Oliver’s Army lyrics explored

Oliver’s Army is a song from Elvis Costello And The Attractions’ 1979 album Armed Forces.

The single describes the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland that took place between the 1960s and late 1990s, and includes a racial slur that was used to describe Catholics.

The single has been played on radio stations for years and has drawn criticism for the singer’s use of the N-word in his lyrics.

In the song, Costello sings: “Only takes one itchy trigger/One more widow, one less white [n-word].”

Elvis Costello to retire song

More than 40 years after the single’s release, Costello has announced he will retire the single and won’t play it in future tours.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “If I wrote that song today, maybe I’d think twice about it. [White n-word] was 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 I didn’t intend.”

In another interview with The Guardian, the 67-year-old singer urged radio stations to stop playing the single.

“Sadly, that two-word slang is a historical fact,” he said. “It was a derogatory term for Irish Catholics, which I use to make the point.

“One dreads to think how the officer class spoke about people of colour. Perhaps I’d express the same idea differently now.”

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Costello’s new album The Boy Named If was announced in October 2021 and will be released on Friday, January 14th.

The singer is set to kick off his UK tour with the first gig taking place in Brighton on June 5th 2022 at the Dome.

The tour is set to finish three weeks later with a final show at Hammersmith Apollo on June 23rd 2022.

You can pre-order Costello’s new album here.

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