Track of the Day: 'True Love Travels on a Gravel Road' by Nick Lowe

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

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Lemme just throw in something different: Nick Lowe’s cover of “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road.” Popularized by Elvis and also covered by Percy Sledge—both in rather more up-tempo treatments—it was written by the prolific Frazier-Owens country songwriting team. But for my money, Lowe, a Brit from Suffolk, is the only one to do it justice.

And who is Lowe?

You know his songs if not his work. Elvis Costello is a big name in part because of his own cover of Lowe’s “(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” as well as Lowe’s production of five early Attractions albums, including the iconic My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model, and Armed Forces. His nickname is Basher—because he bashes out great song after great song.

Lowe also owns, as far as I’m concerned, strong claim to the best album title of all time, Jesus of Cool. He wrote and played the awesome “So It Goes.” Johnny Cash’s “The Beast in Me” is his too (Cash was his stepfather-in-law). These are a handful among many indelible Lowe-written tunes, and when his production work is introduced, the list grows exponentially. But my favorite Lowe writer-artist credit has to be “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass”—pop heaven founded on the social hell of 1970s London. (Breaking glass seems to have been a theme among late-'70s British artists: here’s Bowie with a different take on the same theme.)

My point is: Nick Lowe kicks shiploads of ass, and more people should know him.

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