Lowe life

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  October 7, 2009

WITH THE RECENT REISSUE OF JESUS OF COOL AND THE RELEASE OF QUIET PLEASE: THE NEW BEST OF NICK LOWE, YOU’VE BEEN CURATING YOUR OWN CAREER OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS. WERE THERE PARTICULAR SONGS THAT YOU WANTED TO PRESENT TO THE PUBLIC AGAIN? I find when I do my solo shows that I have a look over my back catalog, and occasionally I say, “Well, that wasn’t a bad idea, that song.” But when I recorded them back in the day, I wasn’t such a good songwriter. I had good ideas, but I didn’t know how to craft them and strip them down like I know now. That’s the nature of the thing. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s sort of too late.

WELL, SOME OF THOSE SONGS HAVE BECOME STANDARDS. RECENTLY, I HEARD “(WHAT’S SO FUNNY ’BOUT) PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING” IN A SUPERMARKET, AND A FRIEND HEARD “SO IT GOES” IN A CLOTHING STORE. WHAT’S IT LIKE WHEN A SONG TAKES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN? It’s very odd, especially with “Peace, Love and Understanding.” You do, you hear it all the time. It’s been covered by so many different people. Actually, it doesn’t feel like it’s your song anymore, in a funny way. And also because everyone thinks that Elvis [Costello] wrote it.

STILL, IT MUST BE GRATIFYING WHEN A GREAT SONGWRITER MAKES YOUR SONG FAMOUS, EVEN IF PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE THAT YOU WROTE IT. Yeah, that’s fantastic. Elvis, he’s responsible for it, there’s no doubt about it. He liked that group Brinsley Schwarz, and when we broke up, that song should have gone in the dustbin with all the rest of them. But one day, he said, “Let’s do ‘Peace, Love and Understanding.’ ” He put the real hurt on that song that everyone responds to.

YOU’VE WRITTEN MANY WARM AND ROMANTIC SONGS. BUT EVERY SO OFTEN, YOU UNLEASH SOMETHING DELIGHTFULLY CRUEL, LIKE “I TRAINED HER TO LOVE ME.” It’s a lot of fun to do. I claim the Randy Newman defense: “It’s not me, it’s a character I’ve made up.” I know what it feels like to have my heart broken, and to be blue, and to be happy and in love, and also to treat people badly, as well as to feel like I’ve been mistreated. So when I write songs I do know what I’m talking about, even if the way I’ve couched it is all made up. “I Trained Her to Love Me” sometimes makes audience get quite riled. When I first started playing it, it was delicious, as a matter of fact. It really divided the audience. Quite a lot of women thought I meant what I was singing, and were very upset, and quite a lot of guys were punching the air, saying, “Yeah, Nick, way to go, man.” So it was very good fun.

NICK LOWE + BILL KIRCHEN | Narrows Center For the Arts, 16 Anawan St, Fall River, MA | October 15 @ 8 pm | $45 | 508.324.1926 orncfta.org

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