What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding
Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Writer(s): Nick Lowe (see lyrics here)
Released: November 1978
First Charted: --
Peak: 5 CL, 1 CO, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 4.3 video, -- streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Singer/songwriter, musician, and producer Nick Lowe was born in 1949 in England. He started his career in 1967 with the band Kippington Lodge, which later became the pub-rock group Brinsley Schwarz. He wrote the song “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding” in 1974 for the group. “Like all pub-rockers, Brinsley Schwarz were lapsed hippies, playing folky-funky in flannel shirts and jeans. Unlike most, Nick Lowe combined his hippie roots with an absolute faith in the corruptibility of mankind.” DM
Lowe left in 1975 to form Rockpile with Dave Edmunds before launching a solo career. He also wore the producer’s hat for Elvis Costello, helping him launch his career with his first solo album, 1977’s My Aim Is True. Lowe was back for the 1978 This Year’s Model release and 1979’s Armed Forces. The latter album included Elvis Costello’s cover of “Understanding” on the American release. Costello originally recorded it as the B-side for Lowe’s 1978 single “American Squirm.” WK
It was Costello’s idea to record the song. He’d been a fan of Brinsley Schwarz, going to see them play. WK Costello said the original “seemed almost tongue-in-cheek, a take on that brief period after flower power when Tin Pan Alley staff songwriters seemed to say, ‘Hey, let’s get in on some of this crazy peace and love stuff that the kids are digging today.’” WK Critic Dave Marsh said “Costello eradicated Lowe’s cynicism and replaced it with joyous acceptance and thinly veiled remorse.” MA
Lowe said, “it was he who really popularized that song. It’s been covered by loads of people, and it would’ve disappeared if it wasn’t for him.” WK Marsh called it “the hottest rock and roll [Costello’s] band, the Attractions, ever made.” DM Music historian Steve Sullivan says the song “became the most unforgettable of Costello’s early recordings which established him at the vanguard of British rock’s new wave.” SS
First posted 3/9/2023.