Song Stories

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

Elvis Costello and the Attractions | 1979

Written by Nick Lowe for his pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz, the song was recorded by Costello (but credited to Lowe) as a B side, then hastily added to the Attractions' Armed Forces album in the U.S. The lyrics wonder what had become of hippie ideals in the cynical Seventies; the song was rendered that much more powerful by the fact that both Lowe and Costello were identified with the anti-hippie punk and New Wave scenes. Lowe once said he was inspired to write the song by Judee Sill's 1971 folk song "Jesus Was a Crossmaker." "I sort of pinched that," he said.

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Song Stories


Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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