Earlier this year, rock star Elvis Costello announced that he would no longer play his 1979 hit “Oliver’s Army” in concert. Further, he entreated radio stations not to play the song at all. Why? Well, the song uses the word “nigger,” which is now so toxic and taboo that most white songwriters dare not use it, regardless of context. And Costello prefers this to rewriting the lyrics or hearing the word bleeped on the radio.
“Oliver’s Army,” which appears on Costello’s album Armed Forces, is an excellent song, and this is one reason for my sadness at its self-cancellation. (more…)