RetiredArtists, a new site, has launched that claims to be powered by previously successful and well-known punk and hardcore bands featured on Victory and Bridge 9 Records. What do RetiredArtists do for you? Well, they write all your songs for you without telling anyone! Check out a ridiculous message from the site below by clicking “Read More.”
Brinsley Schwarz - (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding
Even if you’re a longtime Elvis Costello fan, it’s possible that this might be the first time you’ve heard the 1973 original of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding”, recorded by songwriter Nick Lowe’s band Brinsley Schwarz. Two things are striking to the listener more familiar with the Costello version. First, it’s clear that while Elvis Costello and the Attractions didn’t diverge that much from the basic arrangement of the original, they turned the intensity up to eleven. Second, there’s the spoken word interlude over the bridge at about 2 minutes in: “We must have peace, more peace and love, just for the children of the new generation”.
It’s a slightly ludicrous bromide in the the painfully obvious statement (who wouldn’t want more peace, save for the arms manufacturers and defence contractors of the world?) and the tautological “children of the new generation”, and as such it fits with Elvis Costello’s assertion in the liner notes to the 2002 Rhino reissue of Armed Forces, that “I believe that Nick wrote the song as an affectionate parody of various pious ‘60s peace anthems.”
Of the version he recorded with the Attractions in 1979, Costello writes, “We certainly attacked the song with little sense of irony and as if it were obvious that no one knew the answer to the question that the song posed”. “Attacked” is certainly an apt word for it. He leaves out the spoken word bit—perhaps because the way he spits out the word “peace” obviates the need to gild the lily any further. Writing in Salon in 1999, Bill Wyman describes the delivery as “indigestible sarcasm” , such that “to this day many of his fans think he was being sentimental.”
Nevertheless, Lowe himself in a 2007 interview graciously asserts that Costello and company gave it “that anthemic sort of quality to which everybody has reacted and which seems to have touched everybody”. Over the years, any bile that may have been present in the Armed Forces version has long since been bled away. This undated acoustic duet with Costello and Lowe seems as earnest as the songs Lowe was originally sending up:
In 2003, Elvis Costello was one of the guest hosts of The Late Show while David Letterman was on an extended hiatus. It was only natural that he should perform, and on March 12, 2003, he and the Imposters played “Peace Love and Understanding”:
“Peace” still sounds like a swear word when he sings it, but it’s interesting to see that he’s using Lowe’s spoken-word bridge. And it’s worth remembering the context of that moment in history: six days later, mass anti-war protests took place across the world, and eight days later, the first Tomahawk missiles struck in Baghdad. On the eve of an unpopular war and with the memory of September 2001 still fresh, the song took on an earnest resonance for many of the people listening to it—a kind of musical “can we all get along?”
By 2004, the song was a staple of the Vote For Change concerts with Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam—not merely a plea for cooperation, but one with a distinctly left-leaning bent. The tension between irony and earnestness reaches a breaking point in the cast performance on Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special from November 28 2008:
What are we to make of this song’s placement at the classic “valuable life lesson” moment of Colbert’s satire of mawkish holiday television? Particularly when it features Costello (or at least someone lip-syncing to his part) dressed as Colbert’s longtime nemesis, a bear? It’s hard to take it entirely seriously, but it’s worth remembering that Colbert’s satire is always driven by some degree of conviction, no matter how thickly he lays on the irony. And there is a genuine “peace on earth, good will to all” underlying it, even here.
Regardless of the original intentions of the songwriter or the man who made it most famous, “Peace Love and Understanding” has, in the way of so many songs with a good hook, escaped out into the wild and taken on its own mythology and resonance. Lately the song’s plaintive questions—”Where are the strong? Who are the trusted? Where is the harmony, sweet harmony?”—feel more heartfelt than ever. As the issues facing the human race grow increasingly complex and unmanageable, there’s a yearning for simpler answers—what, indeed, is so funny about peace, love, and understanding? Nothing, perhaps, which makes the absence all the more inexplicable, and all the more painful—and thus the power of Lowe’s song only continues to grow.
Paper Bag Records is continuing their series of artists covering classic albums in their entirety with a digital release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardusy and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. The covers come from such artists as PS I Love You, The Luyas, and Yamantanka//Sonic… via Scene Point Blank News Feed
After playing at festivals earlier this year, Godspeed You! Black Emperor has announced the upcoming release of Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, a four song album on Constellation Records. The release is set for October 16, 2012. via Scene Point Blank News Feed
Don’t let the name fool you, this is the real deal.
DISCLAIMER: This may REALLY not be your thing. Oh well.
I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman. ( http://www.neilgaiman.com ) From the Sandman comics to American Gods, I really can’t get enough of his writing. When I joined Twitter a couple of years ago, he was one of the first celebrities I ‘followed’….
great song-by-song breakdown of the album. love it.