"You've gotta be
Cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you
Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind
—Nick Lowe, "Cruel to be Kind"
(b. 1949) is a British Singer Songwriter
who has been active since the late 1960s
. His first group, Kippington Lodge, evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz. After they broke up in the mid 1970s
, Lowe began his solo career, which continues to this day. He's also worked as a Record Producer
for Elvis Costello
, Graham Parker, The Damned
and others, a career which earned him the nickname "Basher" due to his habit of recording quickly and without production tricks, wherein he would instruct bands to "bash it out, we'll tart it up later". He is best known, at least in the USA, for his song "Cruel to Be Kind", in the UK for "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass", and, indirectly for Costello's Cover Version
of the Brinsley Schwarz song "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." He also worked with Dave Edmunds on several of his albums and in the band Rockpile, but personality clashes between the two meant Rockpile disbanded after releasing one album.
His early music career is best described as Power Pop
catchy hooks meets New Wave
energy, hilarious, frequently sarcastic or surreal lyrics
and a cheerfully irreverent approach towards songwriting, especially manifested through fondness for playing with pop music conventions
. Starting with The Impossible Bird
, he's transitioned into a more reflective, less energetic style more heavily inspired by Country Music
, classic pop and Soul
As usual, you can find the basics about his life and career at The Other Wiki
Pure Tropes For Now People:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Pinker and Prouder Than Previous
- Adolf Hitlarious: "Little Hitler" has Lowe comparing Jake Riviera, his notoriously thuggish manager, to the Fuhrer.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Paul McCartney in "Nutted By Reality". "Rollers Show" pokes fun at the Bay City Rollers, but is noticeably more snarky.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Several of Nick's songs take shots at record label executives and the failure of Brinsley Schwarz, such as "I Love My Label", "Music for Money", "Shake and Pop" and "They Called It Rock".
- Black Comedy: "Marie Provost".
- Bowdlerize: Lowe's solo debut album, released in England under the title Jesus of Cool, was released in the U.S. as Pure Pop For Now People.
- Cool Old Guy: The Jesus of Cool Old Guys, in fact.
- Cover Album: Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds Sing The Everly Brothers, whose covers were originally issued as a bonus EP for the Rockpile album Seconds of Pleasure.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Well, duh. It's only the name of his biggest hit, after all.
- Genre Roulette: Lampshaded by the cover of Jesus of Cool.
- Power Pop: One of the standard bearers.
- Protest Song: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding". The original Brinsley Schwarz version was an Affectionate Parody of the genre. Elvis Costello's version wasn't.
- Rated G for Gangsta: Nick commented that he deliberately changed his style because he didn't want an inappropriate Strictly Formula reputation, saying "I didn't want to become one of those thinning-haired, jowly old geezers who still does the same shtick they did when they were young, slim and beautiful. That's revolting and rather tragic."
- Rick Roll: Let's just say that Lowe didn't intend for the entire stanza in "All Men Are Liars" about Rick Astley and "Never Gonna Give You Up" to have such a different meaning twenty years after the fact.
- Self-Deprecation: Some of his albums were named after punny plays on certain idioms, like Labour of Lust and The Abominable Showman. At My Age and Quiet Please: The Best of Nick Lowe also lampshade his stylistic change.
- Silly Love Songs: "Cruel To Be Kind" and "I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" are both subversions of this trope.
- Take That: To Rick Astley in "All Men Are Liars".