Elvis Costello - What's so Funny about Peace, Love & … - 1979

Introduction to "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" by Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" is a significant song in the history of rock music. Originally written by Nick Lowe, it was made famous by Elvis Costello in 1979. In this aiMOOC, we'll explore the context, themes, and impact of this song, as well as delve into the background of Elvis Costello himself.

Background of the Song

History and Songwriter

  1. "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" was initially penned by Nick Lowe.
  2. Elvis Costello's version was released in 1979 and became one of his most iconic tracks.
  3. The song is often perceived as a response to the turbulent political and social climate of the 1970s.

Themes and Message

  1. The song addresses themes of peace, love, and understanding, questioning why these ideals are often met with cynicism or laughter.
  2. It reflects a yearning for a better, more compassionate world.
  3. The lyrics challenge listeners to reflect on their attitudes towards these fundamental human values.

Elvis Costello

Early Life and Career

  1. Elvis Costello, born Declan Patrick MacManus, began his career in the London pub rock scene in the early 1970s.
  2. He quickly gained popularity for his unique style, blending punk, new wave, and classic pop.

Musical Evolution

  1. Over the years, Costello's music has evolved, showing his versatility across different genres.
  2. He is known for his sharp lyrics and distinctive voice.

Impact and Legacy

Influence on Music

  1. The song has been covered by various artists, highlighting its lasting influence.
  2. It remains a powerful anthem for peace and understanding in troubled times.

Cultural Significance

  1. The song's message continues to resonate with audiences around the world.
  2. It serves as a reminder of the power of music to inspire change and promote unity.

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was Elvis Costello's version of "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" released? (1979) (!1982) (!1976) (!1980)

Who originally wrote "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding"? (Nick Lowe) (!Elvis Costello) (!John Lennon) (!Bob Dylan)

What genre is Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" primarily associated with? (Rock) (!Country) (!Jazz) (!Pop)

What major theme is explored in "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding"? (Peace and compassion) (!Political unrest) (!Romantic love) (!Individualism)

What aspect of the 1970s does "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" often reflect upon? (The turbulent political and social climate) (!The rise of disco music) (!The space race) (!Economic prosperity)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Elvis Costello's birth name? (Declan Patrick MacManus) (!Edward Louis Severson) (!Robert Zimmerman) (!Gordon Sumner)

In which scene did Elvis Costello start his career? (The London pub rock scene) (!The New York punk scene) (!The Los Angeles glam rock scene) (!The Liverpool beat scene)

How is Elvis Costello's music characterized? (Sharp lyrics and distinctive voice) (!High-pitched vocals and elaborate stage costumes) (!Extended guitar solos and heavy metal influences) (!Dance-oriented beats and electronic sound)

Which of the following genres has Elvis Costello NOT extensively explored? (Heavy Metal) (!Punk) (!New Wave) (!Classic Pop)

Elvis Costello is known for blending which of these elements in his music? (Punk, new wave, and classic pop) (!Rap, country, and reggae) (!Jazz, blues, and soul) (!Classical, electronica, and folk)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What does the song question about peace, love, and understanding? (Why they are met with cynicism or laughter) (!How they can be achieved globally) (!Whether they are outdated concepts) (!If they are the solution to world problems)

What does the song express a yearning for? (A better, more compassionate world) (!A return to traditional values) (!A time of peace and prosperity) (!An end to all conflicts)

Which lyric from the song symbolizes a desire for global unity? ("Where is the harmony?") (!"Where is the love?") (!"Where is the truth?") (!"Where is the hope?")

What emotion is predominantly conveyed in the song? (Hopefulness) (!Anger) (!Sorrow) (!Indifference)

The song "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" is an anthem for: (Peace and understanding) (!Rebellion and change) (!Romantic love) (!Personal freedom)


Elvis Costello's Birth Name Declan Patrick MacManus
Original Songwriter Nick Lowe
Main Theme of the Song Peace and Compassion
Year of Elvis Costello's Version Release 1979
Elvis Costello's Initial Music Scene London Pub Rock Scene

Open Tasks


  1. Research the 1970s: Explore the political and social climate of the 1970s to understand the context of the song.
  2. Music Analysis: Listen to the song and write down your feelings and thoughts about its message.


  1. Cover Version: Create your own cover of "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding" and share it online.
  2. Essay on Themes: Write an essay on the themes of peace and understanding, using the song as a reference.


  1. Musical Influence Study: Research and present how Elvis Costello's music has influenced modern artists.
  2. Songwriting: Write your own song inspired by "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding," focusing on current global issues.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the Relevance: Explain why the song's message is still relevant today.
  2. Comparative Analysis: Compare and contrast this song with another protest song from a different era.
  3. Elvis Costello's Evolution: Discuss how Elvis Costello's music style has evolved over the years.

OERs on the Topic


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