(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace , Love and Understanding - Brinsley Schwarz
Talking of drummers....Brinsley Schwarz were one of the "back to basics" pub rock bands that became popular in the vanguard of the revolt against glam and disco in the mid seventies that ultimately resulted in punk.
This song, written and sung by lead singer Nick Lowe, is great for his plaintive vocal, his idealistic words and the driving drumming, powering the song along. And it's a singalong anthem that has you pumping your fist in the air at the end of the talky bit in the middle. Not to sneer at the great bass line, the backing vocal harmonies, and the rousing middle eight guitar solo. But the drummer, though a little heavy handed, is clearly influenced for the better by his hero Keith Moon.
In 1985 I was instigator of a wandering cricket team from London, and we had recruited a new extra fast bowler so that at last we could win a few games. His first appearance was against a team of affable hippies from the pub "The Compasses" in Tunbridge Wells, and the game was quickly soured by him hitting their opening bat on the head (before the days of helmets) resulting in a trip to the hospital, and a couple of stitches for the unfortunate victim. We straight away removed the bowler, but the spirit of the game was never retrieved, although we spent much of the evening in the Compasses apologising to the opposition for deploying a player who was clearly far to good for our standard and far too stupid to realise how dangerous he was bowling at full pace on such a dodgy wicket. Amongst those who got drunk that night was the opener, stitches and all, who took the whole thing with good grace. At some point he told me he was Billy Rankin and used to be the drummer with Brinsley Schwarz. Ecstatic, I informed him I had their album "The New Favourites" and I loved his drumming on "Peace, Love and Understanding". He was as pleased as punch, and bought me beer after beer that night as a result. Later a certain Trevor, one of his teammates, whispered to me, "You've made his day - he has 200 copies of that single in his attic!" Our friendship blossomed in the following seasons with Billy, a keen fisherman, often turning up with a freshly caught trout for me take home after the game. And for our part, we had learnt our lesson, we didn't want to win badly enough to lose friends, a lesson I'm afraid that we had to learn a few more times over the years. Perhaps this is something that is in the nature of humankind, or mankind at least. Look at the world today. Do we learn, or do we repeat the same old mistakes, generation after generation?
Which makes Nick Lowe's earnest plea all the more poignant, and his question just as relevant as it's always been, so that it's worth turning up the volume and singing along in full, especially that emotional, almost desperate last line:
"As I walk this wicked world searching for light in the darkness of insanity I ask myself, is all hope gone - is there only pain and hatred and misery oh yeah
and each time I feel like this inside there's one thing I wanna know: oh what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
oh what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
And as I walk on through troubled times my spirit gets so downhearted sometimes so where are the strong, who are the trusted and where is the harmony, sweet harmony?
'cause each time I feel it slipping away, it just makes me wanna cry out (loud) so what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
oh what's so funny 'bout peace and love yeah yeah yeah yeah?
We must have peace
more peace and love
if just for the children
of the new generation
So where are the strong, and who are the trusted and where is the harmony, sweet harmony?
'cause each time I feel it slipping away, it just makes me wanna cry out what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh oh what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?
Oh what's so funny about a little bit of peace and love yeah yeah yeah?"
Here's to you Billy.