When Sarcasm Turns Into Sincerity

Before I start writing a single word of a script or embarking on a new project, I always give it a title, and I'm always thoroughly pleased with the titles I come up with. Big Hunk o' Burnin' Love, Jukebox Stories, Emophiliacs—they're catchy, they're resonant, and they ooze with meaning. So it's a special occasion when I forgo an original title and instead name a script after a song. This has happened twice. All Men Are Liars is one of my first plays, which won me my first playwriting award ever, and Drive-Thru Man is a screenplay I wrote a few years ago. Both titles were taken from Nick Lowe songs.

That's what I wanted to tell Nick tonight after his exquisite performance at Safari Sam's in Hollywood, but the bouncer, who was unsympathetic to fandom, wouldn't let me backstage. Instead, I had to bask in the afterglow of a truly splendid evening.

Nick Lowe is a badass. At 58, he tore though a 21-song acoustic set that spanned his 30-year career; he eschewed a guitar pick in favor of finger-pickin' virtuosity; and the sheer technical brilliance and genuine warmth of his performance commanded everybody in the room.

When he wrote "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" many decades ago (made famous by Elvis Costello), he meant it to be a sarcastic, absurdly sentimental plea for world harmony, he has claimed. "As I walk through this wicked world/Searching for light in the darkness of insanity" are indeed the song's overly emotional opening lines.

But watching Nick—looking fantastically distinguished with his shocking white hair—perform a downtempo, tender rendition of the song makes you realize that age and wisdom tend to sand down sarcasm until in turns into sweet sincerity.

Here, he performs the song in New York City at 7 World Trade Center, at Ground Zero:


  1. It was as close to a religious experience that I've ever had.