Nick Lowe – So It Goes —-Powerpop Friday

This was Lowe’s first solo single following the split of the pub rock band, Brinsley Schwarz. It was also the first single to be released on Stiff Records, a label formed by the music managers, Dave Robinson and Andrew Jakeman.

Although “So It Goes” failed to chart, it still earned a profit for the young Stiff Records. It was on the album “Pure Pop For Now People”…it’s American name. The album in the UK was called Jesus of Cool. The album peaked at #127 in the Billboard 100 in 1978.

Nick Lowe: “It’s not my favorite, it’s a bit too much like Steely Dan. I think I must have got it from something they’d done.”

From Songfacts

In this song, Nick Lowe is acknowledging the unpredictability (and, sometimes, futility) of life and the inevitability of death. “So it goes” is a recurring line in Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel, The Slaughterhouse Five. It is used every time a death occurs.

This features in the 1979 musical comedy, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, starring The Ramones.

Jesus of Cool was Lowe’s debut solo album. So to not cause offense, the American release was re-titled Pure Pop for Now People. The iconic album cover features six images of Lowe dressed in a variety of exaggerated rock star costumes.

So It Goes

Remember on night the kid cut off his right arm
In a fit to save a bit of power
He got fifty thousand watts
In a big acoustic tower
Security’s so tight tonight
Oh they’re ready for a tussle
Gotta keep your backstage passes
‘Cause your promoter had the muscle

And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows
And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows

In the tall buildings
Sit the head of our nations
Worthy men from Spain and Siam
All day discussions with the Russians
But they still went ahead
And vetoed the plan
Now up jumped the U.S. representative
He’s the one with the tired eyes
747 for the midnight condition
Flyin’ back from a peace keepin’ mission

And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows
And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows

In the air there’s absolution
In the wake of a snaky Persian
On his arm there’s a skin tight vision
Wonder why she admires she is hissin’

And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows
And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it’s goin’ no one knows

But where it’s goin’ no one knows
But where it’s goin’ no one knows
But where it’s goin’ no one knows

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding —Powerpop Friday

Great song and great performance by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. The song was written by Nick Lowe and first released in 1974 by the band he was in called Brinsley Schwarz named after their guitar player.

The American and Canadian release of Elvis’s album Armed Forces contained this song. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.

Nick Lowe on writing the song: “I wrote the song in 1973, and the hippie thing was going out, and everyone was starting to take harder drugs and rediscover drink. Alcohol was coming back, and everyone sort of slipped out of the hippie dream and into a more cynical and more unpleasant frame of mind. And this song was supposed to be an old hippie, laughed at by the new thinking, saying to these new smarty-pants types, ‘Look, you think you got it all going on. You can laugh at me, but all I’m saying is, ‘What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?’ And that was the idea of the song. But I think as I started writing it, something told me it was too good idea to make it into a joke. It was originally supposed to be a joke song, but something told me there was a little grain of wisdom in this thing, and not to mess it up.”

From Songfacts

This was written by Nick Lowe and originally recorded by his band Brinsley Schwarz in 1974. Despite a wealth of talent and great deal of promotional support, Brinsley Schwarz never managed a hit, but were very influential to artists like The Clash and Elvis Costello. Nick Lowe became a very successful producer and scored a hit as a solo artist with “Cruel To Be Kind.”

Costello and Lowe were both signed to Stiff Records, and Costello’s version, credited as “Nick Lowe & His Sound” was first released as the B-side of Lowe’s 1978 single “American Squirm.” Costello’s version was more energetic and had more Pop appeal. It was included on American editions of Costello’s 1979 album Armed Forces. With its simple message of unity and love in a troubled world, the song became an anthem for peace and tolerance, and was recorded by many artists, including A Perfect Circle, Lucy Kaplansky, The Flaming Lips and The Wallflowers.

This lifts from the Judee Sill song, “Jesus Was A Cross Maker,” Lowe told The A.V. Club: “I always would ‘fess up that there is one lick in the tune I did steal from Judee Sill. She had a song called ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’ at about that time that I really thought was a super song. I haven’t heard that song for many years, but I always think I took a little lick from Judee’s song.”

In 1992, this was covered by Curtis Stigers for the Whitney Houston film, The Bodyguard. The film’s soundtrack album went on to sell 44 million copies worldwide, landing Lowe a large royalty check that financed his less commercial music. Lowe told The Telegraph: “It was a tremendous piece of good fortune. I made an astonishing amount of money from that.”

This appears in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, where Bill Murray sings a karaoke version.

This was sung by Stephen Colbert, John Legend, Elvis Costello (in a bear suit), Feist, Toby Keith, and Willie Nelson on the TV special A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! after John Legend told Stephen that he (Stephen) didn’t understand Christmas.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

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?
And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I want to know:

What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?
And as I walked on
Through troubled times

My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?

Sweet harmony.
‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

 

Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind

May the 4th be with you…

A great little pop/rock song. The song was on the album Labor of Lust and the album peaked at #31 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1979. Rockpile recorded this album and at the same time recorded Edmunds solo album Repeat When Necessary.

12 was popular with this song…The song peaked at #12 in many charts… Billboard 100, Canada RPM, New Zealand, and the UK… In Ireland, it only reached #19.

Nick Lowe said about the song: “I wrote that when I was with a band, Brinsley Schwarz, that I was with from the early ’70s to about the mid-’70s. … We recorded it on a demo, it never came out, and when I signed to Columbia Records the A&R man [Gregg Geller] there at the time suggested I record it again. And I didn’t think it would do anything, but he kind of bullied me into it.”

The video featured Nick’s wife Carlene Carter who had just got married Nick shortly before and included some real footage of the ceremony in the video. Rockpile guitarist Dave Edmunds plays the chauffeur in the video. Drummer Terry Williams was the photographer. Guitarist Billy Bremner also got a role, playing the guy who serves the cake.

This would be Nick’s only top forty hit in Billboard.

 

From Songfacts

This song reflects on a lover’s rather antagonistic attitude. Nick Lowe co-wrote the song with his Brinsley Schwarz bandmate, Ian Gomm, for the Brinsley Schwarz album, It’s All Over Now, though said album was never officially released. In 1979, Lowe re-recorded the song for his second solo album, Labour of Lust.

Lowe and Gomm were hoping the song would be a pop hit for Brinsley Schwarz, and crafted it for mass consumption. Lowe only grudgingly recorded it, and he considered it an aberration – a pop sell-out song. When he performed the song on The David Letterman Show, he called it “wimpy” and had little interest in discussing it.

Lowe cribbed the phrase “cruel to be kind” from Shakespeare, who used it in Hamlet:

I must be cruel only to be kind
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind

Lowe revealed the musical influence behind this song to The A.V. Club: “I wrote with ‘The Love I Lost’ by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in mind.”

This was Lowe’s highest charting hit in the US, where it peaked at #12 (coincidentally, it also peaked at #12 in the UK, Canada and New Zealand). Lowe spoke to The A.V. Club about his chart success: “I remember coming to Los Angeles when it was a hit, and did that thing where you change the radio station, and it was on about two or three at the same time. You could hear it starting on one station and finishing on another. Amazing.”

The official video is a comedic reenactment of Lowe’s marriage to Carlene Carter, who plays herself in the clip.

The couple was married on August 18, 1979 after Lowe had just finished a tour with his band Rockpile. Figuring he could kill two birds with one stone, Lowe made the wedding the theme of the video, and used some actual footage of the event, turning his wedding day into a video shoot (although aren’t they all, sort of?). The day before, director Chuck Statler shot staged footage of Lowe preparing for the nuptials and Rockpile performing the song outside of the Tropicana Hotel in Los Angeles, where the reception was held.

The wedding took place at Carlene’s house in Hollywood. Guests at the wedding show up in the clip – you can spot Carter’s stepsister Rosanne Cash sitting on the couch.

Carter and Lowe toured together in 1982, opening for The Cars, with both singers sharing the same band. The couple divorced in 1990.

“We were having great fun,” Edmunds said in his Songfacts interview. “In that band, the four years we were together, we never had any falling out – it was a little club of our own.”

The drum kit in the video says “The Textones.” That’s because Rockpile didn’t have a drum kit handy, so they borrowed one from a local band. Kathy Valentine, who would later join The Go-Go’s, was a member of this band.

In 1982, Enjoh Santyuutei released a Japanese cover version of this song and in 2010, Stavros Michalakakos recorded it in Greek.

The video was one of 206 that aired on MTV’s first day of broadcasting: August 1, 1981.

Cruel To Be Kind

Oh I can’t take another heartache
Though you say you’re my friend, I’m at my wit’s end
You say your love is bonafide, but that don’t coincide
With the things that you do
And when I ask you to be nice, you say

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

Well I do my best to understand dear
But you still mystify and I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down, again and again
And when I ask you to explain, you say

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

Well I do my best to understand dear
But you still mystify and I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down, again and again
And when I ask you to explain, you say

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

(Cruel to be kind), oh in the right measure
(Cruel to be kind), it’s a very very very good sign
(Cruel to be kind), it means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

(Cruel to be kind), oh in the right measure
(Cruel to be kind), yes it’s a very very very good sign
(Cruel to be kind), it means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

(Cruel to be kind), oh in the right measure
(Cruel to be kind), yes it’s a very very very good sign
(Cruel to be kind), it means that I love you