13 3 mins 9 yrs

So, I’m been away for a few days on business, and now I am sitting here at Heathrow with no mobile battery but I am now aware of THIS story!

It has been played in full thousands of times and without causing a fuss. But Elvis Costello’s hit song Oliver’s Army was censored to remove the word ‘nigger”’ when it was recently played on a BBC digital station to the surprise of listeners.  The song, taken from the album Armed Forces, is one of Costello’s best-known and has received endless plays across all BBC radio stations without any complaint – until now.


The line in question is heard at the end of the second verse before the chorus: ‘One more widow, one less white nigger’ A listener who heard the edited tune on Steve Lamacq’s show on 6 Music was prompted to complain to Radio 4’s Feedback, stating the word was actually necessary for the song: ‘I do know the song inside out, as most people probably do, then all of sudden – clunk- it had the n-word taken out.

Tony Close, director of standards at Ofcom, told Feedback that milder swear words have become of ‘decreasing concern’ but that words targeting particular communities – such as race, faith, gender and sexuality – had become of ‘greater concern’ to audiences. A 6 Music spokesman said of the decision to edit Oliver’s Army: ‘We are guided by our editorial guidelines and production teams use them to make decisions about language in songs on a case by case basis.  ‘In this instance it was decided that the song would be edited but it does not mean that it would always be the case.  ‘We take into consideration a number of factors including the nature of the language, the station and its audience, the time of day, editorial justification and the wider context of the program”

This is an outrage. The words used are NOT racist, it is not offensive. Free speech is increasingly being erased by the cultural marxists in the name of “sensitivity”  and this sort of retro revisionism REALLY annoys me especially when it relates to MY favourite song, as all long time readers of ATW will attest.

So, here is the offending song, and THEN, for good measure, may I commend the lyrics to ANOTHER song from the same album, DO make sure your tender sensitivities are not too offended.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]


  1. Bob Dylan uses the N word in his song The Hurricane. It’s not racist in that context wither. Context is everything.

  2. ‘It wasn’t very subtle I must admit.’

    The listener said that their understanding of the lyric was that it referred to British troops in Northern Ireland who used the phrase as a derogatory term for the Irish.

    He added: ‘Although it is not a nice phrase and I wouldn’t condone the use of the word these days, it is an anti-war song as far as I believe, arguing against British colonialism and the word would be appropriate for that song.’

    The song was believed to have been inspired by events in Northern Ireland and by the role of armies around the globe.

  3. It is a matter of context, and the song has been played for about 30 years with the line still in it. I always thought it was a reference to the soldiers who are sent out by the powers that be and tend to be from classes that are expendable.

    I find taking the word out of Huck Finn for example is insane as the context there is to have the most honorable character in the book called by everyone a vile name, thus demonstrating the absurd evil of slavery.

    In Dylan’s Hurricane it is also used as a putdown not of the boxer but of those who would label him as such.

    It is a matter of context though, and can be used in a vile way.

  4. I wonder if writers/performers or other copywrite owners have any say over the editing of lyrics when a recording is broadcast ?

Comments are closed.