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

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"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding"
Brinsley Peace.jpg
Song by Brinsley Schwarz
from the album The New Favourites of... Brinsley Schwarz
RecordedApril–May 1974
LabelUnited Artists
Songwriter(s)Nick Lowe
Producer(s)Dave Edmunds

"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" is a 1974 song written by English singer/songwriter Nick Lowe and subsequently covered by both Elvis Costello and Curtis Stigers.

Brinsley Schwarz version[edit]

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 has been included in the following Lowe compilations: 2002's Anthology (along with the Elvis Costello version), 2009's Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe, 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.

Lowe 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 appeares on his 2004 live album Untouched Takeaway, and a live Brinsley Schwarz version is 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.

Elvis Costello & the Attractions version[edit]

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.[1]

Modern Drummer said of drummer Pete Thomas' performance, "A beautiful thing happens on this song, common to many early Attractions songs. It’s that feeling that the track could derail, when in reality Thomas has everything locked down. He does a lot of playing here without overplaying. Like most Attractions songs from that era, this was cut live, full-band and lead vocal. That’s probably why so many years later, it still sounds so energized and inspired."[2]

The video for the song was directed by Chuck Statler.[3][4]

The Bodyguard[edit]

A 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" from his eponymous debut album, which had been released the year before. According to Will Birch's book on pub rock, No Sleep Till Canvey Island, the cover 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.

Other recordings and performances[edit]

John Lennon quotes the song in his 1980 Rolling Stone interview with Jonathan Cott.[5]

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 Center in Washington, D.C. 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 response to the October 27, 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at Tree of Life, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based band The Clarks released a cover of the song, with all proceeds going to the synagogue.[6]


  1. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ Patrick Berkery. "10 Reasons to Love Pete Thomas". Modern Drummer.
  3. ^ "Chuck Statler". IMVDb. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  4. ^ What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding on YouTube
  5. ^ Cott, Jonathan (1982), "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", Rolling Stone, p. 191
  6. ^ McMarlin, Shirley (7 November 2018). "The Clarks cover 1970s peace anthem to aid Tree of Life". TribLive.com.