Thursday, March 06, 2008

Will There Ever Be Another Band Like Huey Lewis and the News?

I wake up every morning with a song in my head. Usually it's some inanely irritating song from adult contemporary radio like The Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" or a song like "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" from the musical Oliver!. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll grumble to you that I have an irritatingly impressionable song-mind. I don't know why, but I get at least a half a dozen songs stuck in my head throughout any given day and, depending on my mood, I might hum them, whistle them, or sing them to the great annoyance of my friend/girlfriend/coworker. I don't know how this happens. I don't even have to hear the song to get it stuck in my head. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will be making dinner and she will say something about taking out the trash and twenty minutes later, I'll be singing "Yakety-yak (Don't Talk Back)." Other times, the background noise of the television will put an idea in my head and I'll have the refrains of "Get Outta My Dreams, and Into My Car" bouncing around in my noggin.

Anyway, this morning I awoke with the Huey Lewis and the News tune "Happy to Be Stuck with You" in my head and it made me realize that there may never be another band like Huey Lewis and the News.

Huey Lewis and the News (hereafter HL&N) was the first concert I went to as a child. I don't even know why we went. It was probably because my sisters wanted to go. My dad was a fan, too, but I think that was after the concert. I remember we made a big deal out of getting there because we were camping at this big campground just outside of Rapid City called Heart Ranch and we left just to go to this concert. I don't know if it was pre-planned or what. It seems like everybody I knew was there. (When Huey Lewis came to Rapid City it was big News!) I do remember that I was having trouble seeing, so I went to stand in the aisle above a tunnel entrance and this dude came down and bitched me out for standing in his way. I was five. My dad took me by the hand and led me to the same spot and stood next to me, daring the guy to come back. I love my dad.

But back to HL&N.

The News was one of those late 80s phenomena that, musically, sat somewhere between soft rock and jazz and adult contemporary, yet they still somehow remained popular. I mean, how many 40-something dudes could release an album called Sports and be a success? How many popular bands can you name that have a horn section in the year 2008? Also, they had a song called "I Want a New Drug" and it was popular! Nobody could record a song like that and get airplay in 2008. And that's my point: there was a sort of goofy innocence to Huey Lewis and the News. They were utterly uncool, (didn't one of the dudes have big grandma glasses?) and they knew it. They even had a song called "Hip to Be Square". Yet HL&N wrote good tunes with wide appeal. They didn't have an overwhelmingly obvious gimmick, but they had a certain effortless blue collar sensibility that only artists like John Mellencamp (or is it John Cougar or is it still all three? Who cares?) desperately try to manufacture in the current musical climate.

I have to admit, when I was younger I always thought that they should have called the band Huey, Lewy and the Newy, as a tribute to Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewy, and Louie. Why am I telling you this? I don't know...

I retained my shirt from that Huey Lewis and the News concert for years afterwards. I believe it was the Fore! tour and I think I inherited each member of my family's shirt over the course of a few years. In a way I still wish I had one of those shirts. Kind of.

Huey Lewis last recorded an album of original material in 2001 and a live album in 2005. They're still going strong it seems. I wouldn't listen to any of their new material, but they should keep making albums as long as they can, because once they're gone, they will have been one of a kind.

But maybe that's for the best.