photo & text by nacrowe
given the similarities between his name and mine, i was basically indoctrinated by my parents from an early age by much of NICK LOWE's discography. which i am thankful for. this includes his incredible debut JESUS OF COOL (RADAR, 1978), which was renamed for the AMERICAN market PURE POP FOR NOW PEOPLE (COLUMBIA, 1978) over concerns of our overzealous religious sensibilities. god, how depressing is that? its almost like we cant take a joke (we can't).
despite his influential career, LOWE still feels to me like a criminally UNDERRATED songwriter who never really got his due amongst the music consuming public (unlike NEIL YOUNG, TOM PETTY, ELVIS COSTELLO, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and the like). among musicians he is much beloved as his song "(WHAT'S SO FUNNY 'BOUT) PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING" off of his sophomore album has been covered by everyone from ELVIS COSTELLO, AUDIOSLAVE, JOSH HOMME, THE FLAMING LIPS, CANDI STATON and WILCO over the years. at this point it is basically a modern standard. what draws me to his songwriting in general is his preternatural ear for vocal melodies and POWER POP-inspired hooks. not to mention SARDONIC insights into the mundane nature of daily life dressed up in LUSH orchestration and tight, thoughtful song constructions.
standout examples from JESUS OF COOL / PURE POP FOR NOW PEOPLE include "SO IT GOES," "I LOVE THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS," "NUTTED BY REALITY" and "MARIE PROVOST." all four songs ive heard throughout my childhood and are embedded permanently alongside songs from THE SMITHS, THE KINKS, THE STRANGLERS, THE WHO, THE ANIMALS and THE BEATLES. whats funny to me is i have no idea what they are specifically about. they seemingly are all full of OBLIQUE references to situations, histories and feelings by ENGLISH communities from over 40 years ago. if anything you get the sense that LOWE is deeply aware of the discrepancies and underwhelming aspects of the human experience, but does not wallow or feel deferential towards it. if anything, his HUMOR shields him, as well as the listener by extension, from taking it on full tilt. that gallows humor feels very ENGLISH to me. just take life as it comes but dont be afraid to laugh at your own misfortune.
i have to get better at that.
look into JESUS OF COOL if you are interested in smart, thoughtful NEW WAVE songwriting or just great ROCK N ROLL craftsmanship in general. definitely worth checkin out.