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

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"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding"
Song by Brinsley Schwarz from the album The New Favourites of... Brinsley Schwarz
Released 1974
Recorded April–May 1974
Genre Rock
Length 3:34
Label United Artists
Writer Nick Lowe
Producer Dave Edmunds
The New Favourites of... Brinsley Schwarz track listing
"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" "Ever Since You're Gone"

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” is a 1970s song written by English singer/songwriter Nick Lowe and recorded in the best-known version by Elvis Costello.

The song was originally released in 1974 on the album The New Favourites of... Brinsley Schwarz by Lowe's band Brinsley Schwarz and released as a single; this version was included on Lowe's 2002 compilation Anthology (along with the Elvis Costello version), and his 2009 compilation Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe, as well as 1991's Surrender to the Rhythm: The Best of Brinsley Schwarz, 1996’s Naughty Rhythms: The Best of Pub Rock 1970–1976, and 1998’s Pub Rock: Paving the Way for Punk.

The Elvis Costello & The Attractions version was first issued as the B-side of Lowe's 1978 single "American Squirm" credited to "Nick Lowe and His Sound". At the time, Lowe was Costello's producer, and he produced this track as well. When the song became a hit, it was quickly appended as the last track to the US edition of Costello's album Armed Forces. It has appeared on most of Costello's "Best of" compilations over the years, as well as on the soundtrack to the film “200 Cigarettes”. Live versions appeared on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Volume 7: 2002–2003, and 2012's The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, both by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked this version of the song as the 284th best song of all time.

Thus far, Lowe himself has not released a solo studio version of the song, but plays it regularly in concert, and live versions have appeared as B-sides of his 1982 double 45 single "My Heart Hurts", and his 1994 EP "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road", on the radio compilations KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 3, Q107's Concerts in the Sky: the Campfire Versions, and Live at the World Cafe 10th Anniversary, some with solo acoustic guitar and some with different full bands. Another live Lowe version appeared on his 2004 live album Untouched Takeaway, and a live Brinsley Schwarz version was included on What IS so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?, which featured songs played live in BBC sessions. Lowe also produced a cover version of the song as a B-side for the 1991 single “See Saw” by the British band the Katydids, after producing their eponymous debut album.

A very high-selling, if not as famous cover version of the song was included on the soundtrack album for the film The Bodyguard, which sold 17 million copies in the United States alone. This version was performed by jazz singer Curtis Stigers, who also used it as a B-side to the single "Sleeping with the Lights On" off his eponymous debut album, which had been released the year before. According to Will Birch's seminal book on pub rock, No Sleep Till Canvey Island, the royalties from Stigers' version of the song made Lowe wealthy. Lowe, however, asserts that he used most of the money to support a subsequent tour with full band. Stigers later covered a second Lowe song "You Inspire Me" on the 2003 album of the same name.

In 2004, "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" was regularly performed as an all-star jam on the "Vote for Change" tour, which featured a rotating cast of headliners. The 11 October concert at the MCI Centre in Washington DC was broadcast live on the Sundance Channel and on radio. This version of the song featured Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Dixie Chicks, Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews, and John Fogerty with Michael Stipe, Bonnie Raitt, Keb' Mo', and Jackson Browne.

In 2008, Costello performed a version of the song on Stephen Colbert's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! with Colbert, Feist, Toby Keith, John Legend, and Willie Nelson.

At the finale of Costello's Glastonbury 2013 set Peace, Love, and Understanding was performed before and after an ironic comment on the first appearance at the festival, a few hours later, of the Rolling Stones using their own song Out of Time.

Covers[edit]

Year Singer/Group Album or Single Comments
1987 Midnight Oil "Put Down That Weapon"
  • Non-album single B-side, as "Peace Love and Understanding"
  • Performed as a closer on their Blue Sky Mining tour
1988 The Flaming Lips "Drug Machine"
1989 Phil and John Don't Look Now... It's The Hallelujah Brothers
1991 Katydids "See Saw"
  • Non-album single B-side, as "Peace Love and Understanding", produced by composer Nick Lowe
1991 The Party In the Meantime, In Between Time
  • Includes Rap interlude
1991 Cletis Carr Tales of Ordinary Madness
1992 Dead White And Blue Heads
1992 Curtis Stigers The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album
  • Also appears as B-side to single "Sleeping with the Light On"
1992 Trip Shakespeare Volt (EP)
1994 Chris Dowd Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture Floundering
  • Chris Dowd was a member of the rock band Fishbone.
1996 Lucy Kaplansky Flesh and Bone
1996 Kabah La Calle de las Sirenas
  • Spanish version, as "Amor, Paz Y Entendimiento"
  • Also appears on 2000's "Serie Millennium 21"
1997 Down By Law Before You Were Punk
1997 Unsteady Double or Nothing
1998 Sam the Butcher Assembly Line
1998 Uncle Otto Men Who Smoke
1998 The Boz Roz Band Shadow of the Thunderbird
2000 Charlie Hunter Solo Eight String Guitar
2000 Mr. B's Boogie Band Mr. B's Boogie Band
2001 Joe Goldmark Strong Like Bull...But Sensitive Like Squirrel
2001 The House Jacks Drive
2001 Teddy Morgan and the Pistolas Live@7BlackCats
  • Live
2001 Joe Louis Walker Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe
2002 The Wallflowers Red Letter Days
2002 Glen Ricks Reggae Rocks: A Tribute to Rock ’N’ Roll
  • Reggae version, on album of various reggae artists performing covers of classic rock songs
2003 Steve Earle Just an American Boy
  • Live
2004 A Perfect Circle eMOTIVe
2004 Chris Cornell and Maynard James Keenan Axis of Justice: Concert Series Volume 1
2004 The Ataris Live at the Metro
  • Live solo acoustic version performed by Kris Roe
2004 Keb' Mo' Peace... Back by Popular Demand
2006 Chris Cornell Chris Cornell: Unplugged in Sweden
  • Live solo acoustic version.
2007 The Holmes Brothers '"State of Grace"
2010 KC Craine Road 20
2010 Katherine Green DFTBA Lullabies
2013 David Broza East Jeruslaem / East Jerusalem
  • Featuring Israeli/Palestinian musicians and teen choir of Arabs and Jews.
  • Simple Minds included a cover of the song in the bonus CD included with the deluxe release of their 2009 album Graffiti Soul.
  • Derek Webb recorded a cover of the song for the December installation of his 2011 subscription album project Democracy, Vol. 2.
  • Indie band The Hush Sound covered the song during the encore of their 2012 tour.