Today is Nick Lowe's 60th birthday. I've been listening to "Quiet, Please: The New Best of Nick Lowe" the last few days, and Nick's songs have been playing on an endless loop in my head. (Which is not a bad thing, mind you.) The more I listen to Nick, the more I like him. What "Quiet Please" really shows is that he has been writing brilliant songs throughout his entire career. I'm amazed at the consistency of his writing, even though the songs sound very different from each other. From the snarky early brilliance of "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding?" "Heart of the City," "Marie Provost," "Cruel To Be Kind," to mature, starkly powerful songs like "The Beast In Me," "What's Shakin' on the Hill," "Soulful Wind," "Indian Queens," and "People Change," Lowe's music has changed over the years, but the quality has not. (A note: "What's so Funny" was meant to be snarky when Nick first wrote it in 1974, but that's not the way he sings it now, as it obviously has more meaning for him as he's grown older.) Lowe's recent songs amaze me because of how tersely perfect they are. Take the beginning of "People Change," for example. "Storybook love, made for one another, now she treats you just like a brother." Boom, 14 words and we already have a whole story right here! The chorus is direct and to the point, "People change, that's the long and short of it, prepare yourself for it, or get bit, people change." Perfect, and very true. In Lowe's songs now, everything seems honed down to it's perfect essence, everything superfluous has been thrown away. I think it's difficult to write songs this way, although Nick sure makes it look easy.
"Quiet Please" includes only songs that Nick wrote, which is fine with me, because I think he's extremely underrated, and he's an absolutely amazing songwriter. By focusing only on original songs, it puts the spotlight firmly on Nick's ability to craft beautiful, memorable pop songs, and it shows that he's in a class of his own.
Nick, if you're reading this somewhere, (I doubt you are, but you never know) thanks so much for all the great music you've made over the years, and here's to many more songs to come! Discovering your music has been a great joy for me these last two years, thank you!