A Christmas hit in 1980, peaking at No.3 in the UK chart and winner of a prestigious Ivor Novello Award, Stop the Cavalry was an anti-war song for a world living in the shadow of the bomb, harking back to the slaughter of British soldiers on foreign battlefields, pawns in a game played by generals far from the front lines.
Yet in spite of its dark inspiration, the song's upbeat tune, "Dub-a-dub-a-dum" singalong hook, tubular bells and oompah brass arrangement have made it a celebratory festive perennial. So much so that in 2009, Jona Lewie told the BBC candidly that the song is responsible for about 50% of his annual income.
Lewie has made no secret of the fact that Stop the Cavalry was not written as a Christmas song. In fact, when the first lyrics came to him he was thinking about the ill-fated Charge Of The Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War in 1854 - a notable victory for the Russians against the British in which more than a hundred men of the Light Brigade of the British cavalry were mowed down and many others grievously wounded because a miscommunication on the battlefield sent them needlessly to their doom.
"Lyrically it just ventured... into the world of war and peace," he told interviewer Lewis Nichols for Penwith Radio in 2010. "In the lyrics there's one line that refers to the soldier wanting to be home for Christmas and so I think the record company thought the best way to market this particular record would be to release it at Christmas time."
A pop video to accompany the song mixed stills from the Great War with footage of Lewie singing "in the trenches", forever creating the misconception that Stop the Cavalry was written about World War I. But it was neither about World War I or Christmas and indeed the melody of Lewie's instantly-recognisable Christmas hit was lifted from a tune that celebrated midsummer - Hugo Alfvén's Swedish Rhapsody No.1, aka Midsummer Vigil.
Of course, it would be an exaggeration to say he was not thinking of 20th Century conflict when Lewie wrote Stop the Cavalry. After hitting on the initial lyrical concept, he started to include "various war time scenarios and predicaments" from throughout modern history, as he told Russell A Trunk of Exclusive Magazine in an interview republished on Lewie's own website.
"Its main concern was from the point of view of just one soldier who would be cold and hungry on the war front, say for example, in France in the trenches in the Great War of 1914-18," he explains, "while the men who started the war, the leaders of the countries etc, were eating great food back home and sitting near their warm coal fires."
"It’s an instant in time where the solitary soldier daydreams to himself that if there were ever an Office for all the Presidencies of the entire World, he would stand for that office," he goes on, "and if he won the election he would make sure that he himself would end the gallantry and STOP all the guys in the cavalry in all future wars from ever charging to their deaths again."