Marc Maron Learns How To Be A ‘Sensitive Man’ With Nick Lowe
by Dan Raby
When you’ve been making catchy pop songs as long as Nick Lowe has it’s okay to look to classic sounds for inspiration. Lowe’s new song, “Sensitive Man,” finds the sexagenarian rocker digging deep into the essence of ’50s Sun Records-era rock. The song could feel right at home on a jukebox next to a tune by The Crickets or Jerry Lee Lewis. The backing vocals, Tijuana Brass horns and jangly guitar sounds look to the past but aren’t stodgy nor simply nostalgic. Lowe’s lyrics are simple and witty — expressing complex issues with a wink and smile. Also, as a side note, more songs need to include the word “dinky-doo.”
Nick Lowe told us what inspired him to write “Sensitive Man”:
“The song came about when I was reading Dream Boogie, Peter Guralnick’s book about Sam Cooke. I thought it was such a great book, and this song called “Sensitive Man” came almost fully formed after I read it.
I put it away, I thought, “I can’t use it.” But I quite liked the basic lyrical idea, so I’d get it out of the box every so often, so to speak, and have a look at it. Eventually I changed it around quite a lot.
It’s a really good title. I’m sure someone has done it, but I don’t know of another song with that title.”
I expected something sweet and romantic from Director Scott Jacobson’s video for “Sensitive Man” (which is Lowe’s first music video in 18 years). I did not expect copious amounts of jean shorts. The video follows a man, played by comedian/podcaster Mark Maron, entering a class to help him become a more sensitive guy. This process somehow involves rainbow-colored auras, gorilla masks and something known as “Rollover Whispers.”
Jacobson must have called everyone in his Rolodex for the film. Some apparent alumni of the class are Wilco, Robyn Hitchcock and Lowe’s young son. The teacher is played by comedian Tim Heidecker of the bizarre television show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
I asked Jacobson about casting the “Sensitive Man” video:
“This was the easiest ever video to cast. I actually found more actors who loved Nick and wanted to be a part of it than I could accommodate. If anyone cares to finance a 10-part series of Nick Lowe videos so I can fit everybody in, that would be great.”
The Old Magic is available now on CD, 180 gram LP and digital at the Yep Roc Store.
Check out Nick Lowe’s confirmed US tour dates with a full band HERE.
Tuesday saw the release of Nick Lowe’s all-new album The Old Magic and today, NPR’s Fresh Air is streaming an amazing interview with Nick for his fans to listen and enjoy. Click HERE to listen to the interview now at NPR.org.
And head over to the official Nick Lowe Facebook page now and click “Like” to stream The Old Magic now for free!
You can pick your copy of The Old Magic up now at the Yep Roc Store on CD, 180 gram LP or digital now. Order the CD or LP and you get the full digital album for free instantly to start enjoying right away. Click HERE to order now.
“I’m sixty-one years old now, Lord I never thought I’d see 30,” Nick Lowe sings on “Checkout Time,” a song from his first new studio album in over four years, The Old Magic, set for September release on Yep Roc.
The line cuts right to the quick. For though he spent his 20s “busy not fitting into three successive movements: pub rock, punk and new wave” (NY Times), Lowe has mined fertile new creative ground in recent years and the eleven tracks on The Old Magic dig deeper still. As NPR observes, “Few musicians get better with age. Nick Lowe is an exception.”
The Old Magic was recorded in London with Lowe’s crack backing band anchored by Geraint Watkins (keyboards), Steve Donnelly (guitar), and Robert Treherne (a.k.a. Bobby Irwin, drums). Additional musicians include Ron Sexsmith, Paul Carrack, and Jimmie Vaughan among others. The album was co-produced by Lowe, Neil Brockbank, and Treherne.
Amidst urbanely insistent grooves (“Sensitive Man”), and spare-yet-imposing shuffles (the aforementioned “Checkout Time”), The Old Magic features three exceptional, recently road-tested Lowe ballads – album opener “Stoplight Roses,” “House for Sale” and “I Read A Lot.” Then there’s “Restless Feeling,” a shimmering dance tune worthy of the roller rink that Lowe wrote for a fictional band he calls Coastline. As is his custom, Lowe also peppers The Old Magic with three covers — by Elvis Costello, Tom T. Hall and Jeff West — that fit seamlessly with his originals.
Nick Lowe’s last album, 2007’s At My Age, was hailed as “utterly fantastic” by the Village Voice and tallied his best single-week sales of the Soundscan era. Since then, Yep Roc has reissued Lowe’s long-unavailable first two albums Jesus of Cool and Labour of Lust, to great acclaim. In 2009, Lowe gave his first headlining performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Later this month he will play the Meltdown and Glastonbury festivals in the UK, with autumn U.S. tour dates to be announced soon.