Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello: What’s So Funny?

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Elvis Costello Understanding screen cap

Costello with the Attractions (L-R): Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas

If you knew that the Elvis Costello version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” was first released as a B-side to a single (“American Squirm”) by its author and producer, Nick Lowe, raise your hand.

Lowe wrote the song in 1974 and originally recorded it as a member of the pop rock band Brinsley Schwarz.

The song has understandably been an essential part of Lowe’s concert performances for decades. The song’s universal message is reflected in its lyrics:

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

Lowe, born on March 24, 1949, co-stars in a 2020 video edition of the song, which was created – at an appropriate social distance, of course – with his son, Roy, on drums, and the Southsea Alternative Choir, for these “troubled times,” as the lyrics note.

Watch Lowe’s updated version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” released on April 5, 2020

Here’s Lowe’s earlier version with Brinsley Schwarz…

Costello, born on August 25, 1954, recorded it and it eventually made its way onto the U.S. edition of his 1979 Armed Forces album.

This 1978 video shows Costello and the Attractions–(keyboardist Steve Nieve, inexplicably on guitar in the photo, drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Bruce Thomas)–dressed in the sport coats and skinny ties that were de rigeur for new wave acts of the era.

Related: The inside story of Costello’s U.S. launch

Not to be outdone, in November 2020, Costello released a new clip of the song made with the video graphics used on the screens during his 2019 tour.

Related: Our 2019 concert review of Elvis Costello & the Imposters

And we would be remiss if we didn’t provide a version of Lowe and Costello singing the song together, where they trade off on the verses.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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