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Oliver's Army

Elvis Costello
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[1978]
Written by Elvis Costello
Scritta da Elvis Costello
Album: Armed Forces (1979)
Armed Forces

Written after the author visited Belfast in Northern Ireland, it criticises the British Army for targeting disadvantaged young men leaving secondary school (when the song was written in the late 1970s, Britain had a high unemployment rate). The title refers to Oliver Cromwell, who as Protector of the Commonwealth created the New Model Army, an earlier version of the modern British Army. The song also mentions specific "trouble spots" in the world, such as South Africa (at the time experiencing turmoil over Apartheid), Palestine, Cyprus, and most prominently Northern Ireland. In reference to the latter country, Costello included the controversial lyric "Only takes one itchy trigger/One more widow, one less white nigger", referring to the Irish, as they have historically been oppressed by the English, much as black people have been oppressed in many countries. Costello is himself of Irish descent.

The Oliver's Army single (with a b-side of Costello performing My Funny Valentine solo) peaked at #2 on the UK charts. It was recorded at Eden Studios in West London.

During the recording of Armed Forces, the incomplete Oliver's Army was nearly dropped from the album, but was eventually kept after keyboardist Steve Nieve created a piano part for the song that was reminiscent of Dancing Queen by ABBA.

The song has been covered by a large number of bands, including Blur, [spunge], Belle & Sebastian, Peter Mulvey, Deborah Hocking Band, OK Go and Dirty Pretty Things.

The music video for Oliver's Army was aired on MTV's first U.S. broadcast day, August 1, 1981.

en:wikipedia
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

Oliver's army is here to stay
Oliver's army are on their way
And I would rather be anywhere else
But here today

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

Oliver's army is here to stay
Oliver's army are on their way
And I would rather be anywhere else
But here today

inviata da Riccardo Venturi



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