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Photo by Dan Burn-Forti

You’ve already read the main interview (click here) with Nick Lowe, but here’s some extra thoughts from the sagacious one.


Nick Lowe had long declared that he would not write an autobiography, and said that he would actively discourage someone from writing his story. But someone did, Will Birch – an old friend, musician and journalist (three dangerous, or at least potentially scurrilous, occupations) whose Cruel To Be Kind: The Life & Music Of Nick Lowe is published by Little Brown.

Did Lowe tolerate this, or did he eventually become comfortable with it?

“When he first asked me, I was flattered and I wouldn’t have said no, definitely not. But in my heart of hearts I didn’t really want him to do it, for one reason, because I think these kinds of things need an ending, i.e. the Grim Reaper to stomp in. And that clearly hadn’t happened yet.

“But I also thought I might be able to get away with it by standing aloof while Will did all the work and interviewed everybody, and they could say what they liked. In fact the more scurrilous and exaggerated the stories, the better, I thought. But lastly I thought that he might get fed up with it and not finish it, or he wouldn’t get a publisher and it wouldn’t come out, so I relaxed a bit.”

Yeah, not such a great plan was it?

“It all came crashing down when he phoned me up one day and said I’ve dug up this stuff about your antecedents, your great-grandparents, and I think you’d be interested in this. Let me take you to lunch and show you what I’ve got. Which he did, and I was really interested in it. And the next thing I knew he’d invited me to a second lunch whereupon I found myself with the best part of a bottle and a half of Pinot Grigio down my throat talking away about Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, and all the things I didn’t want to do. I was bubbling away into a tape recorder and suddenly found myself involved in it.”

Don’t bother asking too many questions about what’s in the book though: he hasn’t read it.

“I’m incredibly uncomfortable with reading stuff like that about myself. I don’t know what’s in it; I’ve got an idea but I’ll be staying away from it.”

In that case let’s not ruin the ending for him.


As mentioned towards the end the interview, Nick Lowe knows his way around fine threads. Can any of us develop this skill?

“Any advice I would give to a young lad who is after something tasty when going to a tailor - because it’s quite a production especially in Savile Row where the waiting list is long and then it takes months to actually do it - is when you are selecting a fabric do not be seduced by something too gaudy. Something that looks fantastic and saucy on a small swatch of cloth, when it’s made up into a suit you can look like Coco the Clown about to come into the ring at Bertram Mills Circus. And you’ll never wear it and find that you are £3000 worse off. I’ve got a couple of those in my wardrobe.”

Don’t be seduced by the gaudy is pretty good general life advice in any case. Thank you Mr Lowe.

Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock & Roll Revue starring Los Straightjackets plays: Enmore Theatre, Sydney, February 16; Forum Theatre, Melbourne, February 18; The Tivoli, Brisbane, February 19; Astor Theatre, Perth, February 21; The Gov, Adelaide, February 23

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