Olivers Army

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by Barrack Room Lawyer, Jan 13, 2006.

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  1. Listening to the radio earlier and the timeless classic Olivers army came on, what/who was the song about though?


    Elvis Costello Oliver's Army

    Don't start that talking
    I could talk all night
    My mind was - sleep walking
    While I'm putting the world to rights
    Call careers information
    Have you got yourself an occupation

    Olivers Army is here to stay
    Olivers Army is on their way
    And I would rather be anywhere else than 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
    All it takes is one itchy trigger
    One more widow one less white nigger

    Olivers Army is here to stay
    Olivers 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
    Over-run 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

    Olivers Army is here to stay
    Olivers Army are on their way
    And I would rather be anywhere else, than here today
    And I would rather be anywhere else, than here today
    And I would rather be anywhere else, than here today
    oh oh oh ooohhh


    http://www.codehot.co.uk/lyrics/efgh/elvisC/oliversarmy.htm
     
  2. Olivers Army is about Politics - world politics - and the Army being the instrument thereof. Take a look at

    http://www.elvis-costello.net

    there are several interviews with EC.

    Incidentally, you`re not the only one wondering about this....Enter "the meaning behind the Song Olivers Army" into Google and it throws up a myriad of sites from all over the world.

    :))
     
  3. The title of the song is very uncomplimentary to the British army. “Oliver” is Oliver Cromwell, who is not a popular figure among Irish Catholics. It’s an oblique reference to a line from the Republican song “The Men Behind The Wire”, which goes “Round the word the truth will echo, Cromwell’s men are here again”.

    Costello’s real name - Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus – shows his Irish ancestry.
     
  4. This verse always hits me, it summed up the ---ahem---- formative years of my "career" - what larks we had in The Province & BAOR.

    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
    All it takes is one itchy trigger
    One more widow one less white nigger


    Edited/Red Inked for clarity or something
     
  5. An ABBA song about a mercenary?, I think the song represents different things for different people, still a classic though, thanks for the replies chaps.
     
  6. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    I always assumed it was a comment on the international mercenary circuit.

    If memory serves there was a song on one of his LPs called the King's Shilling (or something similar) about his grandad who served in the Crown Forces in Ireland.
     
  7. Oliver Cromwell designed The New Model Army which was used so effectively against Irish rebels hence "Olivers Army" if The Republicans hate the name so much maybe we should consider renaming ourselves and using the Song as our National Anthem!
     
  8. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Indeed they do! We called our eldest son Oliver - for the Scots/English family, it's after the great soldier Cromwell, for the Taig side it's after Saint Plunkett. Result :)
     
  9. Wasn't it about the "Callan" mercenary case? Details are hazy - a long time ago, but weren't a group of cowboy mercs/ sociopaths, "led" by the self-styled "Callan" (in fact a Londoner of Cypriot extraction who'd been kicked out of Para Reg), caught doing dirty deeds in some godforsaken African "hotspot" (Angola/ Mozambique?) and shot after a brief/ summary "show trial"? Happened around 1976/77. Think this was the initial inspiration for the song.
     
  10. I was told once it was about the Armys ban on poofters.

    Regards LT.
     
  11. I always assumed it was about the Army, with the Oliver alluded to in the song title, being Cromwell.
    If it was supposed to make me all "anti-Army", well it failed completely. I identidied WITH the song back then and now.

    As to EC in some way hiding his "real" name and his (irish) "Agenda". Well My Great Grandmother was from Ireland and her maiden name was Costello. So it would have been a Shi'ite ruse to hide himself as he chose a good old Bog Trotting name instead!

    Even though I am no Republican apologist, Cromwell and the NMA were not a very pleasant bunch in Ireland during the Commonwealth era. Although Drogeda [sic?] has been taken somewhat overboard, that does not mean that the NMA did not take its collective gloves off when dealing with the "Papist" Stuart supporters.