Stop the Cavalry
|"Stop the Cavalry"|
|Single by Jona Lewie|
|from the album Heart Skips Beat|
|Released||8 December 1980|
|Genre||New wave, holiday|
In an interview for Channel 4's 100 Greatest Christmas Moments, Lewie said that the song was never intended as a Christmas hit, and that it was a protest song. The line 'Wish I was at home for Christmas' as well as the brass band arrangements made it an appropriately styled song to play around Christmas time.
The song's promotional video is set in the trenches of the First World War. The lyrics of the song mention cavalry and Churchill (who served as the First Lord of the Admiralty in the first year of the war, prior to serving in the trenches himself), but it breaks with the First World War theme with references to nuclear fallout and the line "I have had to fight, almost every night, down throughout these centuries". Lewie described the song's soldier as being "a bit like the eternal soldier at the Arc de Triomphe".
At the time there was an increase in tension between the West and the Soviet Union, with American-controlled nuclear cruise missiles being stationed in the UK and a renewed fear of nuclear war. That is the context in which this anti-war song was written, and explains the reference to the fallout shelter.
The song's melody is loosely based on a theme from Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 by Hugo Alfvén, and its major musical elements bear a resemblance to Mozart's Rondo in D Major, K382. "Stop the Cavalry" reached #2 in Australia behind Slim Dusty's "Duncan".
Jona Lewie's version was issued by Stiff Records (catalogue number BUY 104). In 1981, Stiff Records brought together the Gwalia Singers — a Welsh male voice choir — and the Cory Band to record a new arrangement of the song (catalogue number BUY 133). This version remains one of the most requested of all holiday songs in parts of the USA. and it has been suggested that it is "probably the most popular song ever by an artist who never had a charted recording"