NICK LOWE WEEK
Now here it comes: Nick Lowe’s philosophy of love. Given the title of this 2007 album, At My Age, you’d expect it to be full of sadder-but-wiser reflections on human relations; what I didn’t expect was how snappy and snarky he still can be at his age.On the one hand, there’s the mellow, rueful “Love’s Got a
At his age, Nick’s become an incredibly economical songwriter: two succinct lines and you’ve got the whole set-up: “Storybook love, made for one another / Now she treats you just like a brother.” He hangs fire for a moment, strumming away, while the contrast sinks in, then plunges on, with two hurried lines that meander melodically: “And you don’t know what you’ve done / Or even how to make it right.” I can just see the baffled bloke, nodding in recognition. Yeah, yeah, that’s how it is, man. So tell me, what do I do?
Nick ashes his cigarette – or the instrumental equivalent thereof – and then delivers his counsel in the chorus. The lyrics are straightforward -- “People change / That’s the long and short of it / Prepare yourself for it / Or get bit / People change” – but he keeps it dancing, with staggered rhythms, dodgy shifting chords, and an edgy swooping melodic line. Nick’s sudden double-octave drop from “bit” to that last growly “people change”, that’s the song in a nutshell.
Those chipper horns add sympathy to what’s basically a tough-minded credo. “Save your tears, you’re gonna need ‘em,” he warns at one point; “cut yourself a slice of reality,” he adds later. We’ll have no whining here. But it’s not classic British stiff-upper-lip-itude; Nick’s deft phrasing gives the song a stinging undertone, a slight defensive hitch of the shoulder.
Chrissie Hynde generally annoys me (I still haven’t forgiven her for breaking Ray Davies’ heart), but her hard-edged nasal backing vocals here are just right. She’s like the woman in the picture, who’d be happy to chime in with her side of the story -- and it wouldn’t be pretty. With her still haunting him, he can’t get away with self-pity or excuses. All he’s got left is a shrug and two words of advice: “People change.”
Well, I'm already lost in the novel behind that motto. When you get to be Nick Lowe's age, you're bound to have a story or two. And me, I could sit up all night listening.
People Change sample