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

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

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

Brinsley Schwarz version

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.

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 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.

Elvis Costello & the Attractions version

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.

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."[1]

The video for the song was directed by Chuck Statler.[2][3]

The Bodyguard

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 seminal 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

John Lennon quotes the song in his 1980 Rolling Stone interview with Jonathan Cott.[4]

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.

The actor Bill Murray sings the song in Sofia Coppola's 2003 movie Lost in Translation.

A Perfect Circle covered the song on their 2004 album eMOTIVe, an album containing covers of many classic songs.

In 2007 The Holmes Brothers covered the song on their album State of Grace.

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.

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.[5]


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 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 2000s "Serie Millennium 21"
1997 Down By Law Before You Were Punk
2000 Charlie Hunter Solo Eight String Guitar
2001 The House Jacks Drive
2001 Joe Louis Walker Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe
2002 The Wallflowers Red Letter Days
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 Katherine Green DFTBA Lullabies
2013 David Broza East Jeruslaem / East Jerusalem
  • Featuring Israeli/Palestinian musicians and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus (a choir of Jewish & Palestinian high schoolers).
2015 Shovels & Rope Ft. Lucius Busted Jukebox Vol. I
  • Featured on the band's 2015 release of covers with other prominent alternative artists.
2017 Bhi Bhiman 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs
2017 Wilco Spotify Singles
2018 The Reverend Shawn Amos The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down
  • A version was sung by PJ Olsson & Salman Ahmad for the theme of the television series Aliens in America. It also appears on Olsson's album American Scream.
  • In the 2003 film Lost in Translation, Bill Murray's character impassionately sings a karaoke version of the song.
  • Simple Minds included a cover of the song in the bonus CD included with the deluxe release of their 2009 album Graffiti Soul.
  • The Pretty Reckless sung the song live for KROQ Radio Sessions 2010.
  • Panic! at the Disco vocalist Brendon Urie posted a cover of the song to his Twitter account on 7 August 2011.
  • 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.
  • The Strypes featured a version of the song on a limited edition single to raise funds for the teenage cancer charity Canteen.


  1. Patrick Berkery. "10 Reasons to Love Pete Thomas". Modern Drummer.
  2. "Chuck Statler". IMVDb. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  3. What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding on YouTube
  4. Cott, Jonathan (1982), "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", Rolling Stone, p. 191
  5. McMarlin, Shirley (7 November 2018). "The Clarks cover 1970s peace anthem to aid Tree of Life". TribLive.com.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.