In 1974, British singer-songwriter Nick Lowe released a song that eventually became an anthem of perseverance in troubled times. That song, “(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” recorded by Lowe's band Brinsley Schwarz, achieved popular acclaim when it was covered by Elvis Costello in 1979. Now 71, Lowe has had a successful solo career, with 14 studio albums and well-known songs such as “Cruel to Be Kind” and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll).” His latest work is an EP, Lay It On Me, to be released June 5. Here he talks about the power of music during crisis.
Q: How does music help you through something like the pandemic?
A: Because I'm a songwriter, a bit of lockdown and social distancing is sort of business as usual. I don't want to sound too flippant about it, but I spend a lot of time on my own, and so in that respect, nothing much has changed. But the phone's not ringing, so I can stare out of the window with my mouth open to my heart's content, which is one of the things I like to do. That's an important part of the writing process.
Q: You did a performance video from your home recently. How important is it, even in a time like this, to continue to perform and try to connect with fans and listeners?
A: I'm not of the internet generation. It's a brand-new experience to me, really, to sing to a phone. It's not something I'm used to. But there seems to be quite a demand. I don't feel like I need to have my face in front of the public. But, you know, I've got a new record out, whatever that means nowadays. I wouldn't normally be talking about myself or putting myself about unless there was a global pandemic or I had a new record out.