Friday, December 5, 2008

Track of the Week: (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

It's the flip side.While I watched the Stephen Colbert Christmas special, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, I could not help but totally dig the cover him and his friends (Elvis Costello in the form of the bear who ate him, Toby Keith, Feist, Willie Nelson and John Legend) did of this great, Nick Lowe penned song. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," while first released by Brinsley Schwarz in 1974, is more known for the Elvis Costello & The Attractions 1979 version. The great power pop and trademark Costello snarl make the song a classic. This week I have samples of the song from Brinsley Schwarz, Elvis Costello & The Attractions and the Flaming Lips.

What the heck is so funny about peace, love and understanding? Are we just supposed to watch as people go to war all the damn time and shrug our shoulders like oh well, I guess this has to happen? Why is it naive to not want people to die if we can avoid it? What the hell? If this wasn't such a cool song I think I would lose my cool and go find "W" and punch him in the face while yelling, "Peace, you idiot! Peace!" Yeah.

Now watch as Elvis Costello out-cools us all.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions




I loved the Colbert special! Especially amazing were the two songs Colbert performed with Elvis Costello. I still have to save up a little money to get the soundtrack, but I WILL get it. You can buy it from iTunes or get the DVD if you so wish. Either way, some of the money goes to Feeding America, a charity about...feeding...America.

As for the Flaming Lips version, it comes from a Sup Pop 7" from 1989. What is really cool about it, and you'll thank me for this later, is how the song starts as a cover of the Sonics' "Strychnine" before seamlessly transitioning into "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." Plus, the song is a real nice punk version.

Bill Murray in Lost in Translation


Lyrics
As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony

'Cause each time I feel it slippin away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?
What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

Samples
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding by Brinsley Schwarz
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding by The Flaming Lips

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Artist Profile: Bo Diddley

Born Ellas Otha Bates, our hero changed his name to Ellas McDaniel after being adopted. However, we know him today as Bo Diddley, the creator, actually the populizer (is that a word, um, no) of the "Bo Diddley Beat" and heavy influence on the direction and sound of rock 'n' roll. Despite his popularity initially in the United States, the other side of the Atlantic is where Diddley's influence would really be felt. Much like Buddy Holly, the British took an special liking to him and his influence would appear in the massive number covers to come out out Britain during the British Invasion. The Pretty Things, Rolling Stones and Animals, for example, based many of their early lives as a band on Bo Diddley songs. Yet I turn on my radio to my local oldies station and never hear one of his songs. Unlike many of the early rock 'n' roll pioneers, particularly Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis (ugh) and Little Richard, still receive at least some airplay (less and less though, as "oldies" radio has increasingly mutated into some horrible monstrosity, similar to Godzilla, of "classic hits" which includes disco and other non-oldies from the 70's; that's another story). Oh yeah. Being banned by Ed Sullivan from the Ed Sullivan Show did not help Mr. Diddley with promoting himself. Not at all.

Once upon a time Bo Diddley had girls screaming for him and everything! Like the Jonas Brothers! Obviously we're talking about THE SAME LEVEL OF ABSOLUTE COOLNESS HERE. Also, notice the woman in playing guitar. During the 50's, that was pretty revolutionary. Even today it is not really common. Diddley featured various women in his band, including "the Dutchess" Norma-Jean Wofford. (If only Hillary Clinton was black and had been made Secretary of State, I think I could have made a pretty good political joke or something)



Then the kids got all stupid and boring and didn't have the same reaction to him anymore, even though he was still as cool.



Of course, people still liked him despite weaker record sales. And his shows remained...well, here. Dig the footwork and dancing moves. That is a rock 'n' roll showman right there!



On top of introducing a new beat to rock 'n' roll, Diddley designed his own guitars beginning with actually creating his original one. The sound of his guitar was also unique. Eventually the twangy sound would be used by other bands, notably surf bands years later. His lyrics created a strange alternate universe where Bo Diddley was legendary in pretty much any field he wished to be. Most of those songs were not only danceable, but also funny.

Samples
At the amazing and popular blog ChrisGoesRock you can find many of the early Diddley albums.