In the early days, Elvis Costello covered Nick Lowe ("What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding"). Nick Lowe was the bigger name. By the time Lowe's Rose of England came out in 1985, the tables had turned. Lowe recorded his first Costello cover on that album, "Indoor Fireworks."
Lowe and Costello have collaborated for decades, beginning with Lowe serving as producer for Costello's first five albums. Earlier this year, while promoting his latest CD, That Old Magic, Lowe appeared on Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast. He spoke of his relationship with Costello with affection and a dollop of good humor.
Maron: Did you find Elvis Costello?
Lowe: No, not really. He used to come and see our group, Brinsley Schwarz, especially when we played in the northwest toward Liverpool....We always used to notice him at the gigs....[I] thought "Well, he turns up all the time." So I went and said hello to him. A few years later he went into Stiff records...and I was sort of the house producer...
I thought his songs were too complicated, too many words, too many chords. When I was doing [My Aim Is True], I was sort of in charge. He did what I said, I was the producer. It didn't take very long for slowly the scales to tip, until I found myself tugging the forelock and saying, "Um, Mr. Costello what do you got in mind for today, sir?"...
Elvis's stuff was always very sophisticated. As I said, it was chord-y. But if you corralled it, it was fantastic. He's written some sensational songs....I can't really remember what I did [as Elvis's producer]. He kept on asking me back, and I would always turn up and say, "Oh yeah, very nice."
Maron: ...Would you put him in the same arena as Bob Dylan?
Lowe: Well...he certainly puts himself in the same arena as Bob Dylan. Don't get me wrong. I'm very fond of him. We get along great. I always feel with him, as I describe it, as rather like a slightly disapproving elder brother. He works so hard, and whenever I see him, he always comes up come up to me and says something like..."Oh yeah, well Bobby DeNiro and I went out with so and so." And, I find myself saying, "Well, Robert DeNiro. He hasn't really made a good film for quite a long time, now has he?" I find myself slagging off whatever he says. But I really am ever so fond of him. He's a great fellow.