Singer-songwriter Eric Bogle criticises charity's use of his song
TheRoyal British Legion has come under fire for using an anti-war song to promote this year’s poppy appeal.
Scots-born singer-songwriter Eric Bogle has lashed into the charity for featuring a version of No Man’s Land sung by Joss Stone on its YouTube channel.
The last two verses of Bogle’s song have been cut – leading to claims it has neutered its anti-war message.
Among the lines excised are: “the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame, the killing, the dying, it was all done in vain, for Willie Mcbride, it all happened again, and again, and again, and again, and again”.
The words “To that loyal heart are you always 19?” has been changed to “To that loyal heart you ‘re forever 19”.
A petition has now been launched calling on the legion to apologise and to run the full lyrics on its website and Bogle himself has criticised the charity.
He said: "Was my permission sought when they decided to record this song ? No! Did I know what they proposed to do with the song when they decided to record it? No!
“Do I approve of what they have done to the song? (missing verses, rock’n’roll arrangement, etc) No, believe it or not I wrote the song intending for the four verses of the original song to gradually build up to what I hoped would be a climactic and strong anti-war statement. Missing out two and a half verses from the original four verses very much negates that intention."
Bogle was born in Peebles in 1944 and emigrated to Australia in 1969 where he made his name on the folk scene.
His anti-war song And The band Played Waltzing Matilda – which was covered by The Pogues – has been named as one of the top 30 Australian songs of all time.
The Royal British Legion has hit back, claiming the petition campaign is based on “a selective and misleading interpretation” of a letter written by Bogle to fRoots music magazine.
A spokesperson said: "When read in its entirety, it confirms that the Legion legitimately obtained rights to vocalist Joss Stone's version of the song, that she and guitarist Jeff Beck were entitled to re-arrange it, and that their version does not "glorify" war.
"The Legion hopes that listeners who download the single will be inspired by Joss Stone and Jeff Beck's transcendent and moving version, which honours all those in the British armed forces who have lost their lives in service to the nation.
"Monies raised by the single will enable the Legion to provide direct support to veterans of the armed forces, serving personnel, and their families, for life."