Huey's taking what they're givin' 'cause he's working for a living
July 7, 2013 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Grantland checks in with 1980s megastar Huey Lewis, who is "hard at play," still relentlessly touring at the age of 62.
After tonight's concert, the band will shower, the crew will load out, and Lewis's 25-person caravan (which he refers to as his "small business") will hop back on their buses and drive 403 miles to Anderson, Indiana, for tomorrow night's gig at a horse track and casino. In the next seven days, Lewis will play five shows in places like Paducah, Kentucky, and Quapaw, Oklahoma, along with bigger cities like Dallas and Cincinnati. Even with the gaudy 1980s sales statistics, Huey Lewis and the News has the work ethic of a 2010s indie band.
posted by porn in the woods (182 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really love these guys; the musicianship is just top notch and the enthusiasm is infectious. Even though their originals are generally excellent, I might just consider their best work the cover album Four Chords and Several Years Ago because it's so god damn alive.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Huey Lewis interview on Bullseye (soundcloud, auto-plays) from a few months ago gave me a new found respect for Huey Lewis. He works hard, plays the music he wants to play, and kind of lucked into stardom, but never quit working. Also, the interview features an insane story of how he flew to Europe for free back in the old days before computerized ticket systems.
posted by mathowie at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


In before the American Psycho joke.
posted by box at 4:06 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Call me crazy, maybe we could skip it this time.
posted by jonmc at 4:10 PM on July 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Good for him. He looks like he's working out almost every day and watching what he eats.
posted by sourwookie at 4:10 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Always loved "Heart and Soul." Had a huge crush on the gal in the vid too. Hardcore punk here, go figure.
posted by Max Power at 4:11 PM on July 7, 2013


bigger cities like Dallas and Cincinnati.

Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City, Seattle, San Francisco, too?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [34 favorites]


A man who loves his work.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huey Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzie's Live and Dangerous, which is probably much cooler than anything anyone who hates Huey Lewis has ever done.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:14 PM on July 7, 2013 [62 favorites]


And Clover was the backing band on Elvis Costello's My Aim is True. suchatreat compelled me to go see them last summer at Hampton Beach for an obscene amount of money. They put on a very good show and in no way seemed to be punching a clock in Middle of Nowhere, NH.

The fans were something else.
posted by yerfatma at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


BTW I want to drink tequila shots and play Wii Sports with the guitar solo from "If This Is It".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


He's everywhere all of a sudden. Does he have a box set coming out or something? Where did I just see a big segment on him on TV? Sixty minutes or CBS Sunday morning I think.

I love his songs, but I have the same problem with him, Phil Collins, and some Hall and Oates...that 80s production was bad back then and almost unlistenable to me now. I wish all those guys would remake their greatest hits, but stripped of all the cheese and schlock and just leave the songs. Not unplugged, just un-80s them completely. There's gotta be a market for that. I would buy the hell out of that.
posted by nevercalm at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [31 favorites]


Sometime a few months ago a local business hired him to do a private corporate party--the business' 40th anniversary or something--and flew them in. They backlined everything. Everything. I don't think they showed up with a piece of their own gear. A friend of mine has a backline production business contracted for the show and had to procure everything on their very-specific list (including renting a couple pieces from me). So The News and Huey come in at the airport, limo over to the venue, do their thing--no set up, no soundcheck--on gear they have never previously touched (harmonica excluded, i think) and collect something close to a million for it. I wonder how that casino/state fair circuit compares.
posted by sourwookie at 4:18 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


A question I love to ask people is what their first rock concert was.

My very first rock concert was Huey Lewis & The News, Sports Tour in 1984. Hilton Coliseum, Ames Iowa.

So there.
posted by mcstayinskool at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


btw, many members of The News were the studio band for Elvis Costello in the late 70s/early 80s. True story.
posted by mcstayinskool at 4:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


He's 62?
I'm still 17 wait oh no my fucking God
posted by angrycat at 4:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [85 favorites]


They backlined everything.

I can speak to that. With big acts, that's pretty common. Or like a guitar guy would just show up with one guitar. With all the big shows in the city, it's pretty common to load in your personal gear at some club and rent to go everywhere else. That shit is HEAVY and gas is expensive and trucking is a nightmare. There are places that will even send techs to send it up. The riders are very specific, I've even been handed drum setup pictures. They come in, fiddle with it to get it just right, then go. They probably had their real rig somewhere else in your city or with their tour package.
posted by nevercalm at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


My first show too! Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, CA, summer of 1985. Back to the Future was still in the theaters, you can only imagine the thrill. My guess is that the set list from that show and the set list from 2013 show at an Indian casino or beach amphitheater this summer would overlap 90%. And why not?
posted by MattD at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


nevercalm: I'm very familiar with that and I get it. It also gives me the chance to rent some of my stuff out to national acts every now and then. What was unusual about this was the fact that even guitars and basses were backlined (they required an Eric Clapton Strat). I'm also a little surprised whenever I rent a synth out to someone like the Pointer Sisters and learn they use only presets and no custom patches.
posted by sourwookie at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back in the 80s I covered a Huey Lewis small concert for my local paper. It was a small venue, and I was backstage listening to the banter.
The promoter said he didn't have the promised money.
Huey had the flu. I figured they'd just go home. Who works free ot cheap?

Then he and the band went out and worked their butts off. I was amazed. You'd never have guessed this wasn't the most important concert of his career. I mean really worked.

The experience really stuck with me. I got to see what a real pro does. I'm not surprised to find he's still working hard.
posted by cccorlew at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [25 favorites]


They backlined everything.

Are those your drums?
posted by grog at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


i thin k i speak for many people when i say i don't know what a backline is.
posted by boo_radley at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously

Sort of.
posted by dr_dank at 4:29 PM on July 7, 2013


My dad does not, shall we say, have the best taste in music. But I'll forever thank him for Huey Lewis, solo Paul Simon's greatest hits & P-Funk.
posted by fishmasta at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: "i thin k i speak for many people when i say i don't know what a backline is."

I had to google it myself.
posted by Samizdata at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huey Lewis was the first music I really fell in love with, as a young kid. I would make my dad put on Heart of Rock n Roll every night and dance and bang on the drums and just generally go nuts. That boom boom, boom boom, boom boom. Oh man, so good. I have Sports framed on my wall to this day.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2013


He's everywhere all of a sudden. Does he have a box set coming out or something?

Yeah, they re-issued Sports for the 30th anniversary, so I think the record company is banking on nostalgia and getting his name out there in a press tour to sell more albums.
posted by mathowie at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


just un-80s them completely

That is a charming idea. I'd like to know what was wrong with people then, where they'd say "That's it! Those drums sound PERFECT. Now let's do some DX-7 overdubs".

You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, sadly.
posted by thelonius at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


A question I love to ask people is what their first rock concert was.

My very first rock concert was Huey Lewis & The News, Sports Tour in 1984. Hilton Coliseum, Ames Iowa.


My first rock concert was Huey Lewis & The News, Fore! Tour in 1987. Freedom Hall, Johnson City, TN. I wore a white Izod with a popped collar, hot pink sweater vest, and floral jeans. It was my 14th birthday.
posted by kimdog at 4:37 PM on July 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Apologies! "Backline" is both a noun and a verb!

The backline (n) is the gear (instruments and amps) performers use on stage. If performers are not traveling with their own gear, "backline" may also refer to the gear that is to be provided for them.

In the verb form, it means the act of providing and setting up gear for performers. Performers may also use it to mean setting their own gear up in advance but out of the way.
posted by sourwookie at 4:38 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Mr. Lewis and I share a birthday; it was this past Friday. He's professional and works hard, bless. However...

If, somehow, Huey Lewis and the News, Hootie and the Blowfish and Matchbox Twenty showed up on the same bill, I wouldn't be surprised - and I wouldn't be going to that concert.
posted by droplet at 4:45 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The backline (n) is the gear like instruments and amps performers use on stage. If performers are not traveling with their own gear, "backline" may also refer to the gear that is to be provided for them.

I always assumed that it referred to "the line in back of house," whereas everything else like lights and control equipment is front of house (FOH). I'm a stagehand, I really should learn that. Also, backline doesn't include any set pieces that I know of, so if Huey had a big inflatable dragon, that would usually arrive separate from the backline. Different people will build it too, generally stagehands load it onto the stage, and road guys build it and set everything up. That varies by city and venue, even.

This is all an amazing derail, sorry. Huey rocks!
posted by nevercalm at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2013


Looks as if the definition has drifted over the years. From wiki:

The term backline used to refer just to audio amplification equipment that stands behind the band on stage, including amplifiers for guitars, bass guitars and keyboards. In the US, backline has expanded in recent years to include the instruments that the musicians play, from guitars and bass guitars, to keyboards and organs, to drum kits and various percussion instruments. It is often used in this sense to talk generally about the equipment available to or needed by musicians. (e.g. "What is the backline at O'Malley's Pub? The band wants to know if they need to bring their own drums or amps.")

Also: "Huey Lewis's audience is coming at me like a battalion of doughy zombies." Ouch.

Also also: He always looked to me as if he'd smell of Aqua Velva.
posted by sourwookie at 4:53 PM on July 7, 2013


Marc Maron's interview with him a few months back was pretty good, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not unplugged, just un-80s them completely.

In 20 years, these will be derided as banal compared to the "raw 80s originals".
posted by DU at 5:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I saw Huey and the News twice, in 1984 and 1985. It was the same show both times. They had choreographed the entire show, down to the step. It was surreal to watch exactly what I had seen a year before. I think they may even have been wearing the same clothes.

This year they're playing an amphitheatre where my kids' fifth and sixth-grade classes performed a Christmas concert. It seats maybe 500.

I think I will go, just to see if they're still using the same choreography.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Sports" is background audio played between innings, like Satie furniture for athleticism.
posted by ovvl at 5:04 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The term backline used to refer just to audio amplification equipment that stands behind the band on stage, including amplifiers for guitars, bass guitars and keyboards. In the US, backline has expanded in recent years to include the instruments that the musicians play, from guitars and bass guitars, to keyboards and organs, to drum kits and various percussion instruments.

This is because when you're yelling at the road guy or shouting from a truss 30 feet in the air or shouting down under the stage, it's just easier to just say "backline." "Hey asshole! Backline's here" isn't a rare occurrence.

Yeah that Marc Maron interview was good.

In 20 years, these will be derided as banal compared to the "raw 80s originals".


I don't know, man. The 80s were a really, really dark time.
posted by nevercalm at 5:05 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to scrape some of the varnish off that 80s sound, what you need to do is record the album to a cassette tape, then high-speed dub it to another tape (using that dusty old boom box in the garage), then leave the tape sitting on the dashboard of your car for somewhere between 4-6 months in summer. It'll tone that gated-snare right down.
posted by Jimbob at 5:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [25 favorites]


As a roadie for one of the bands that inspired him (Sons of Champlin) I have known Huey since he was named Huey Cregg (Lewis is his middle name) and was hanging drywall, sometimes sitting in with the house band at the dive where I worked as a sound guy.

I didn't see Huey for several years, during which he became a megastar. Finally ran into him at a show at the Fillmore in 1986. Wondered if he would remember me. He spotted me on the stage, came over and said, "Hi, Charlie." Told me that he had gone golfing that day with Joe Montana and Dwight Clark. "They think I'm cool!"
posted by Repack Rider at 5:11 PM on July 7, 2013 [58 favorites]


That sounds about right. As does aqua-velva.
posted by nevercalm at 5:13 PM on July 7, 2013


He's a hard-working consummate professional with a crackerjack band-- which I respect! But I am sorry-- it is not hip to be square.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:16 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


My first show too! Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, CA, summer of 1985.
And he's returning there this year! July 26th.

Mid-State Fair has often had better-than (or at least more-current-than) acts than most "County" or "Regional" Fairs, but this year, it's rather uninspiring. (Well, Van Halen has Diamond Dave back - it could be either an event or a trainwreck or maybe both) The saddest show is Sail Rock 2013, with five - FIVE - two-or-three-hit-wonders from the '70s: Christopher Cross, Orleans, Firefall, Player and Al Stewart. AL STEWART?!? Say it ain't so, Al! The Year of the Cat will never end!!!

Also David Cassidy on the SECOND stage. same night as 'Sail Rock'. Could it get sadder?
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 5:18 PM on July 7, 2013


Back in the day (scroll down) Huey looked more typically rockerish, and in 1991 I was at a tribute show to John Lee Hooker at Madison Square Garden where he was part of the all-star band on harmonica. He really wasn't bad at all.

In other words, Huey's OK.
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is "Sail Rock" an alternate name for "Yacht Rock"?
posted by sourwookie at 5:21 PM on July 7, 2013


two-or-three-hit-wonders from the '70s: Christopher Cross, Orleans, Firefall, Player and Al Stewart. AL STEWART?!? Say it ain't so, Al! The Year of the Cat will never end!!!

Some of those hits ("Still The one" "Baby Come Back" and yes "Year of the Cat,") were excellent pieces of popcraft and damned fun to listen to. And what're these guys supposed to do? They're getting paid to play music 30 years down the line..more power to them.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


My complaint is FIVE of them on ONE show? Even Christopher Cross has more good stuff than he'll have time for... and just brushing the surface of Al Stewart's popcraft is SO unfair.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 5:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, will the post-Congress Orleans sound different from the pre-Congress Orleans?
posted by irrelephant at 5:25 PM on July 7, 2013


Yacht Rock (or alternatively "Sail Rock") is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I've schemed recently of forming a Yacht Rock themed cover band and calling it "AM Golden Shower".
posted by sourwookie at 5:26 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huey Lewis and the News wasn't my first concert - it was probably my 400th. It was about 2000 and I was living in Iowa City, and I was playing in a couple alt country bands at the time (everyone in Iowa City at the time was playing in alt country bands, but whatever). I saw in the local weekly that HL&TN was playing at Taste of Cedar Rapids (which is just a fantasticly horrific idea for an event, but whatever), and I really wanted to go. HL&TN is really the only music I remember my dad and I agreeing on and connecting over, so it was kinda special to me.

Being a band dude, I didn't want to seem like I liked HL&TN. When I brought it up to my friends that we should go, you know, as a goof, you know, just to mock how lame he'd probably become, they all agreed. We'd shoot up to Cedar Rapids and watch the show, maybe grab a few beers or hit a minor league baseball game on the way home.

Turns out, all of my friends were actually as excited as I was. I outed myself as a true fan in the car on the way up. All my other friends agreed. Every one of us had memories of listening to HL&TN on pop radio, remembering what it was like to hear real guitars and harmonicas and organs on pop radio growing up and noticing that it was different from the synth pop and other stuff we were into.

Anyhow, the show was fantastic. The bunch of us - proto-hipster, too cool for school band dudes - worked our way to the front of the crowd and actually danced, with the moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and little kids that always seem like they're dancing in front of Iowa street fairs. It was great.

One of the funniest things I've ever seen at a show was when Huey walked up to the mic and said, "we'd like to perform some of our new songs for you..." and paused dramatically as I felt the crowd react with apprehension. "Nah, just kidding, here's some more hits!"

Huey's the man. The rest of the band is dope, too.
posted by elmer benson at 5:26 PM on July 7, 2013 [43 favorites]


Yeah, forget Diamond Dave and Van Halen, if Orleans reunites with Congressman Hall, I'll be there!
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 5:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was a HUGE Huey Lewis fan back in the day. Of course, I was 10 when Sports came out, so Huey's perfectly sanitized and family-friendly rock was a natural step. Rock with training wheels. I outgrew Huey, but I'll still go to bat for "Power of Love," "Back in Time," and "Heart and Soul" after a few drinks. And I dug his cover of "Honky Tonk Blues" even back when I was too cool for country.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:27 PM on July 7, 2013


I keep having this nightmare that I joined Orleans and I show up for my first rehearsal and it turns out it's the day we're shooting our album cover.
posted by sourwookie at 5:28 PM on July 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


My complaint is FIVE of them on ONE show?

Dude, it's a State Fair, you were expwecting what-Crass and Einsturzende neubauten? It's feel good music they want, at they delivered.

Although, in the genre of carnival/county fair rock, I unironically nominate this song. I t makes me want to hang out eating cotton candy, sipping beer and watching the rides as the girls dance.
posted by jonmc at 5:31 PM on July 7, 2013


I can speak to that.

Not to gripe at you personally, but when the hell did people stop speaking about things and start speaking to them? I am seeing this everywhere all of a sudden.

Speaking to things is very much not in my wheelhouse. I expect a showrunner started it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:33 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you haven't seen "Yacht Rock," get your ass to youtube. They recreate the stories behind some of the biggest yacht rock songs. Totally hilarious.
posted by nevercalm at 5:35 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Speaking to things is very much not in my wheelhouse. I expect a showrunner started it.

Well, I DO work in tv, so that's not totally out of the realms of possiblity. Are you, by any chance, the caption of a ship? Or do you just watch a lot of Deadliest Catch?
posted by nevercalm at 5:37 PM on July 7, 2013


"And since time began, it's been handled not as an art form but as a commodity. I mean, all records are the same price. Books are different prices, paintings are different prices, wine is different prices, but all music is the same fucking price. And why? Because the executives in charge of the business are not real businesspeople. They didn't go to business school, they don't have a business vision."

That's an excellent and fascinating point. And maybe it's why Huey Lewis and the News isn't art - they're a commodity, traded on the vast lawns of state fairs everywhere.
posted by four panels at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


For Huey Lewis, a tour like this is just 'business as usual.'
posted by Flashman at 5:40 PM on July 7, 2013


"... In other words, Huey's OK."
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on July 7

Agreed, jonmc. Huey's been OK by me since Duets, in which he played Gwyneth Paltrow's karaoke contest singing father, and supported her, and let her shine on film, and in the re-recording studio, in her first singing part. Huey Lewis and his band, in all incantations, have never been less than good people, and generous musicians.
posted by paulsc at 5:43 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


And it's not that that type of music is bad. "Night Moves" is amazing, for example.
posted by four panels at 5:45 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I love about Huey's podcast account is that "Sports" was a DIY effort that couldn't have happened if the suits had been in the studio or had sent in a hired-gun producer. Puts another spin on than indie spirit.
posted by MattD at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2013


Count me in on the Huey Lewis love train! I saw him in '84 or '85, Stevie Ray Vaughan was the opening act (!) so I got to see two amazing bands. Huey Lewis is one of the all-time great rock/blues harmonica players, and every member of the band can sing, so they did a few a capella numbers. Great musicians, all.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post led me to this "I Want a New Drug"/"Ghostbuster" mashup, which is oddly mesmerizing in the sense that it makes you realize the all circa-1984 era pop hits had incredibly similar tonal qualities: the same keyboard patches, the same gated drums, the same slightly tinny guitar sound, the same sax bleats, even similar vocal deliveries. Don't get me wrong, I loved both songs when they came out, and both still bring a smile to my face. But I do wonder if you couldn't just mash up the entire mid-80s oeuvre and not really notice the difference.

So, um, thanks.
posted by googly at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


'“If you see Huey Lewis walking down the street, do you say “Hey, is that America’s leading rock star” No, you say “Uh, is that a friend of my dad’s?”'
----Bobcat Goldthwait
posted by item at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


As a child of the 80s, it's great to hear that a musician you somehow suspected of being a nice guy actually is. I'm a local clarinet and sax player who very rarely gets to play as part of the pickup band with an act that's come to town, and there are surprises, not always pleasant.

I've often wondered to what extent one-hit wonders are one-hit wonders because they turned out to be assholes. I hope so.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Bobcat joke is probably funnier if you imagine a bunch of loud squawks interjected throughout it.
posted by item at 6:03 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bobcat (like Huey) is a guy who has passed his prime, but is still nice to hear from every once in a while.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't ever call Al Stewart a one hit wonder.
posted by davebush at 6:08 PM on July 7, 2013


Bobcat hasn't been doing much standup recently, but he has been directing some interesting independent films. Dark, very very dark, films, but interesting.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, this is cool. Sports was the very first album I ever bought (I was 8) and tonight I'm going to do something I've been wanting to do for the last 30 years--see him in concert. He's playing at ZooTunes in Seattle tonight and I just read the FPP while sitting here listening to the opener.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


it makes you realize the all circa-1984 era pop hits had incredibly similar tonal qualities: the same keyboard patches

Either that or Lewis's plagiarism suit against Ray Parker Jr. had some merit to it.
posted by asterix at 6:22 PM on July 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Huey Lewis and the Mefites!
posted by nevercalm at 6:22 PM on July 7, 2013


Count me in on the Huey Lewis love train! I saw him in '84 or '85, Stevie Ray Vaughan was the opening act (!)

My first stadium show, in '83 I think, was AC/DC with Stevie Ray and Men At Work opening. Weird lineup, but Stevie Ray was literally revelatory to me. He was playing all sorts of oddball gigs at that stage, I guess.

Bobcat hasn't been doing much standup recently, but he has been directing some interesting independent films.

He directed a few episodes of Maron's TV show very recently, as well. Bobcat's cool.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the Duets thing was Huey playing Gwyneth's dad, in front of her real dad, Bruce Paltrow, who was directing his daughter, in his last movie project, through the final stages of throat cancer, which had nearly robbed him of his voice, much less his ability to sing.

Huey? Under the circumstances, with the material in the script, and the movie's inevitable backstory: heart of gold, balls of professional steel...
posted by paulsc at 6:28 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Night Moves" was a hit around the time I first got a clock radio, about age 10 I think, and started consuming pop music other than Beatles. It's a great song.

But I even have affection for the awful stuff that was on radio at that time, like "Reunited" or "Baby Come Back", like one of those giraffes that thinks that a Jeep is its mother because some shrinks decided to experiment with imprinting.
posted by thelonius at 6:30 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Night Moves" was a hit around the time I first got a clock radio, about age 10 I think, and started consuming pop music other than Beatles. It's a great song.

Agreed, but that's Bob Seger, not Huey Lewis.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


AL STEWART?!? Say it ain't so, Al! The Year of the Cat will never end!!!

Obligatory historical reference.
posted by ovvl at 6:38 PM on July 7, 2013


I was a metalhead in the 80s, and one of those that sneered at Poison for not being metal enough. For some reason though, Huey Lewis got a pass. It was always OK to like him.
posted by COD at 6:47 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another guy who plays and tours because it is in his bones to do so: Stephen Fearing.

I know this is a Huey love-fest, but I have to share a little love for Steve; I went to one of his shows in a dive bar in Kalamazoo in 2003 (so he was doing tracks off of That's How I Walk) and he had his rig and his guitar and he was playing and bantering and started in on Glory Train and about then a freight train started rolling by right outside the window of the bar, and he laughed, and we laughed, and we couldn't hardly hear anything for the train, and he tried singing, and we couldn't hear shit, and he laughed, and we laughed, and he was playing on the guitar the whole time and then he shrugged and started vamping on his guitar, dancing and grooving, in time with the grinding THUD THUD, THUD THUD that was shaking the room and it was at least ten minutes with the train and finally it passed into the distance and he started singing the rest of the song and wound it up with a big flourish and bowed to the railroad tracks.

And we just about brought the house down.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:50 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lewis has said before, and I'm paraphrasing here, that he and the News were essentially a really good bar band that got lucky.

Of course, writing a bunch of hit songs that sell millions of copies is not something most bar bands can do, but HL&TN always seemed to have that sort of work ethic, out there gigging year after year even without a new record to promote. They play music because they can & must, because they (mostly) still enjoy it, and because people will still pay money to see them do it.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:58 PM on July 7, 2013


One thing I didn't know was that he is apparently something of a San Francisco institution. I was watching a Giants game, might've been one of the World Series games, and he was doing the anthem. I wisecracked something like "Really, is this the best they could do?" and got dogpiled by Bay Area people for whom he is apparently something of a minor saint. So don't fuck with Huey Lewis or everyone you know in San Francisco will pounce on you.

I tremendously respect that he seems to know exactly who he is and what people want and sets out to give it to them.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:00 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh. That's whose playing a few blocks from my house right now.
posted by Artw at 7:09 PM on July 7, 2013


There is, however, one stereotype about retarded people that is true, one broad brushstroke that one can make about them all: Good gosh a'mighty, retarded people love them some Huey Lewis. google cache link, original seems to have rotted
posted by hawthorne at 7:19 PM on July 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


All I can say is this story made me smile.
posted by freakazoid at 7:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite piece of Huey Lewis trivia is that the Beat poet Lew(is) Welch was his stepfather. Never been a huge Huey Lewis fan (tho I think he produced perfectly fine pop songs), but I liked him a little more when I learned that. Also I went to school with a guy who's name rhymed with "Huey Lewis," so there's that.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:26 PM on July 7, 2013


I liked that song about needing a new drug.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:28 PM on July 7, 2013


I wisecracked something like "Really, is this the best they could do?" and got dogpiled by Bay Area people for whom he is apparently something of a minor saint. So don't fuck with Huey Lewis or everyone you know in San Francisco will pounce on you.

This is no comment on Mr. Lewis's character, but if they're Giants' fans, it has been scientifically proven you can't trust their judgment.

Go Dodgers!
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also also, when "Heart of Rock and Roll" came out, the radio station in Charlotte, NC, used to play a version of the song that checked Charlotte and Raleigh in the list of cities mentioned. It sounded like Lewis, but I've never been certain if that was a station edit or a Lewis edit for that market.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:40 PM on July 7, 2013


Back in the 80s, I remember my dad seeing Huey Lewis doing one of his top 40 hits on Mtv and poo-pooing Lewis for "selling out". My dad was--and is--a big Blues aficionado and knew about Lewis's stuff before he went big. I always looked at Lewis differently after that.
posted by zardoz at 7:41 PM on July 7, 2013


So don't fuck with Huey Lewis or everyone you know in San Francisco will pounce on you.

The first year I lived in North Carolina I made a crack about Andy Griffith while on a date. It went badly! * His television work is appreciated, let us say, un-ironically, in this locale.

* but not as badly as the time I was at a party in Chapel Hill and I called the Squirrel Nut Zippers a "novelty act"
posted by thelonius at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I liked that song about needing a new drug.

*offers some Koapectate*
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2013


Ah! According to Wikipedia, Lewis did send out different edits of "Heart of Rock and Roll" to different markets. Well. That clears up a mystery I've vaguely wondered about for 25 years or so. Would be fun to have every version on one cd.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:52 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would be fun to have every version on one cd.

Or just the 20 minute extended version.
posted by sourwookie at 7:53 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Boy, that is a loud and enthusiastic crowd. I can't usually hear bands that play at the Zoo once I get inside the house, even with the windows open.
posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know what was wrong with people then, where they'd say "That's it! Those drums sound PERFECT. Now let's do some DX-7 overdubs".

Plenty of lines but nothin' to say.

Love the sweet harmony background on a sandpaper yell. He's a bad@$$ on the harp as well. Musicians make good. That's good news, run it.
posted by petebest at 7:58 PM on July 7, 2013


The first year I lived in North Carolina I made a crack about Andy Griffith while on a date. It went badly! * His television work is appreciated, let us say, un-ironically, in this locale.

The Andy Griffith Show is easily in the top 10 of all time best TV shows, and I say that without a hint of irony. Now, if we're talking Matlock, I'll grant you that it's little more than warmed-over Perry Mason.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to know what was wrong with people then, where they'd say "That's it! Those drums sound PERFECT. Now let's do some DX-7 overdubs".

The main thing, I think, is that all those DX-7 presets actually sounded fresh--you know, before all of a sudden they were used goddamned everywhere all the time. And then the Korg M1 came out and everyone overused that instead.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:11 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's weird -- the old fairlight and Emulator samples now sound fresh again. And you can still get away with M1 samples in pretty much any style of music.
posted by unSane at 8:23 PM on July 7, 2013


I have a very peculiar, specific memory attached to Sports.

I had just opened a present of the Huey Lewis cassette at my sixth grade birthday slumber party when a late April blizzard hit and the weight of the snow made the lights go out. We listened to it on a battery-powered boom box under a big blanket fort. Later that night, we ventured out in the snow to take a look at the shopping mall two blocks away whose roof had just been ripped off by a tornado the day before. I remember seeing some dolls and other toys still strewn around the parking lot, getting covered up by the snow.
posted by umbú at 8:29 PM on July 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


I have deep unironic affection for Duets and Huey Lewis & Gwyneth Paltrow's rendition of "Cruisin'." While driving I'd find it on a pop station in Atlanta at least every other day in summer, which was always the cue to crank it up and harmonize at the top of my lungs like a giant, giant dork.

Of course the best song in Duets is still Andre Braugher's epic solo. Which YouTube now informs me was not actually Braugher singing, but oh well, still awesome. FREEBIRD!
posted by nicebookrack at 8:35 PM on July 7, 2013


all those DX-7 presets actually sounded fresh

I can barely remember that! It became such a cliched sound. Of course there is a reason why it got so popular, it's a classic keyboard.

They were so ubiquitous that, I read on some synth gear board once, Trent Reznor uses them as MIDI controllers on stage, since they are easy to buy used (or, at least, he found a source for a whole bunch of them) and pretty solid build-wise. They smashed them up like Townsend with a guitar, though. I'd expect that they are getting rare in good condition by now, though.
posted by thelonius at 8:45 PM on July 7, 2013


I'm sorry, Huey. I'm afraid you're just too darn loud!
posted by ShutterBun at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"... FREEBIRD! "
posted by nicebookrack at 11:35 PM on July 7

Ya know, HL&TN do play Jacksonville, from time to time. And I know TN knows a few power chords...

But Huey isn't a bad businessman. If HL&TN plays Freebird, even for a hometown Skynyrd crowd, he's gonna have to pay royalties. It just ain't happenin', no how, no where, no matter what chords TN throws into a live break...
posted by paulsc at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2013


I can imagine backlining a lot of gear, but GUITARS? Most professional players are way too picky to mess with a different axe every night. I know guys that would consider that a cold-sweat nightmare.
posted by Ber at 8:58 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me a few weeks ago, and he was funny and unassuming.
posted by jleisek at 9:00 PM on July 7, 2013


Several years ago, I saw HL&TN in a double act with Chicago. Huey and Co were excellent. Chicago....not so much.

I am surprised it is always the same show, but I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But still, keep plugging on, News. You're still better than a lot of acts.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:00 PM on July 7, 2013


Holy shit, yes, I can't even swap between my OWN guitars. It takes at least a couple of rehearsals to get used to a new one.
posted by unSane at 9:01 PM on July 7, 2013


I am surprised it is always the same show, but I guess I shouldn't have been surprised

It's tough. You can only rehearse so many songs and keep them tight, and unless you're born a stand-up comic (and even then) there's only so many stories you can tell about any particular song, and one of them's bound ot be the most interesting.

So unless you're writing new material -- which is hard for a band like Huey's because no-one wants to hear it -- you're forced back on same old same old.

I don't really get the love for Huey. Nice guy, for sure, but so what. He didn't even play on Elvis Costello's first album -- that was the rest of the band Clover.
posted by unSane at 9:05 PM on July 7, 2013


I can imagine backlining a lot of gear, but GUITARS? Most professional players are way too picky to mess with a different axe every night. I know guys that would consider that a cold-sweat nightmare.

I know, right? That's what I found so unusual about it.
posted by sourwookie at 9:07 PM on July 7, 2013


The first year I lived in North Carolina I made a crack about Andy Griffith while on a date. It went badly! * His television work is appreciated, let us say, un-ironically, in this locale.

Let me second this - people get really hostile really quick if you make disparaging comments about Andy.

I also learned the shades of blue you wear can make people angry. You can like #001A57 or #56A0D3, but not both.

I'm amazed at the idea of guitarists not using their own instrument or at least one they know in a performance. I don't play guitar, but I know that the instruments I do play can vary wildly within the same brand in so many ways it seems crazy to risk playing a new one in a paid performance cold. Is it just that a thing that can be done at a certain level of expertise, or does it come from indifference to performance quality?
posted by winna at 9:07 PM on July 7, 2013


I suspect that a band who's literally played the same two dozen songs for 30 years wouldn't bat much of an eyelash at using a (specifically) unfamiliar guitar to plow through a set for an afternoon gig at a corporate party. They at least seem to have named specific models of instruments, and chances are they'd be perfectly serviceable for the day, as opposed to risking their own gear on a commercial flight (instead of their usual tour vehicles)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


nevercalm: "I love his songs, but I have the same problem with him, Phil Collins, and some Hall and Oates...that 80s production was bad back then and almost unlistenable to me now. I wish all those guys would remake their greatest hits, but stripped of all the cheese and schlock and just leave the songs. Not unplugged, just un-80s them completely. There's gotta be a market for that. I would buy the hell out of that."

Lionel Richie tried that last year. Kinda. He went back home to Alabama and I thought it sounded like a cool idea that might sorta redeem him. Maybe he'd go all Muscle Shoals on that mess and put the awful production in the rearview but he ended up going pop country with the remakes, which is an even shittier sound than the 80s stuff.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Us drummers get to play the house kit (the backline) pretty much all the time. It's a hit or miss.
posted by monospace at 9:27 PM on July 7, 2013


Wait, what movie did I see Huey's penis in? Was it Short Cuts?

(googles "huey lewis penis")

Yup. Short Cuts.
posted by item at 9:53 PM on July 7, 2013


just un-80s them completely

That is a charming idea. I'd like to know what was wrong with people then, where they'd say "That's it! Those drums sound PERFECT. Now let's do some DX-7 overdubs".


And one day everything you’re listening to now will be comedy material for someone, and the 80’s synth sound will be really cool.
posted by bongo_x at 9:54 PM on July 7, 2013


In 1980, just out of college, my girlfriend (now wife) and I lived on Beach St. in Santa Cruz and walked a block to the Cocoanut Grove to see The Humans for Halloween. Imagine our dismay when we had to listen to Huey Lewis and the News first. I never dreamed that Huey Lewis would become a frequent ballpark presence during San Francisco Giants playoff runs.
posted by lukemeister at 10:07 PM on July 7, 2013


I can imagine backlining a lot of gear, but GUITARS? Most professional players are way too picky to mess with a different axe every night.

It's still not as common as backlining amps & drum kits, but given the increasing restrictions & cost of airline baggage fees, I'm seeing it more and more. Or at least providing a couple of guitars as back-ups.

Is it just that a thing that can be done at a certain level of expertise,

Yup, pretty much. Serious pros - like Nashville guys or blues guys that play 200+ live shows a year - can be surprisingly lackadaisical about it. They'd undoubtedly prefer their own personal gear (very much including amps), but well, a Strat's pretty much a Strat, a Tele's a Tele, a Fender Twin's a Fender Twin, so y'know - close enough for rock'n'roll. They just strap the instrument on and let it rip.

Plus, often backline instruments are provided by a pro company who specializes in the business, so they've got a fresh set of strings on and had a pro set-up done in recent memory, as opposed to a brand-new-fresh-out-of-the-box guitar, which often has its' own set of problems.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let's go down Lewis's non-News resume, including some of the things already mentioned in this thread.

1. He achieved a perfect 800 on the math portion of his SAT
2. He stowed away on an airplane to Europe and learned to play blues while hitchhiking around Spain
3. He was a member of Clover, which was the backup band for Elvis Costello's My Aim is True (without Lewis, alas)
4. He played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous
5. He played harmonica on Nick Lowe's Labour of Lust
6. He acted in Short Cuts

Knowing nothing else about the guy, if you met him in a bar, you'd think he was awesome.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:30 PM on July 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


So, I keep this blog where I write about all the songs in my iTunes library, one at a time. This past May, after a couple of years, I reached #3650 - "Workin' For a Livin'" by Huey Lewis and The News. As I started to write about it, I think I was going to try and be all ironic, but I just can't *not* love like ten of HL&TN's songs. I only have four of his songs in my library, but I will sing Mr. Lewis and The News' songs loud and proud anytime they come on the radio.

I was a big fan of punk and college radio music (before it was called alternative, so I'm like hip and stuff) but when I heard "Heart and Soul" for the first time, I went out and bought the Sports cassette almost immediately. Like some of the rest of you, HL&TN got a pass. I didn't even know about the Elvis Costello connection then (though if you listen to My Aim Is True and then immediately listen to tracks off the first HL&TN album, you can hear it) and I was willing to give the band a pass for reasons I still can't explain.

Anyhow, here's my piece of Huey Lewis and the News Trivia. The band decided to remake a a song by producer Mutt Lange, "We Both Believe In Love." Lewis rewrote the words a bit (though he doesn't seem to have a writing credit for the song, he probably could have claimed one with some justification) and the song became a hit as "Do You Believe In Love." Its also kind of better than Lange's original, even though they sound a whole lot alike. Lewis' voice is the main factor in this, I think.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:34 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought that story about Lewis learning to play the harp while backpacking around Europe was apocryphal. I guess that kid in the 8th grade wasn't making that up after all.

Also, I'd trade my current gig for playing eight shows a week with a 10 piece band in a heartbeat.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:36 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


All this Huey Lewis and the News love, but nary a mention of Sha Na Na, HL&TN's obvious forebear.
posted by readyfreddy at 12:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


backline porn
posted by flabdablet at 12:45 AM on July 8, 2013


Well. he's an FOB - a friend of Bruce Hornsby - so he's alright with me. (Bruce wrote "Jacob's Ladder"). Bar bands I worked tech for back in the 80s' always did at least one HL&TN tune. It's good danceable rock-pop.
posted by tommyD at 4:07 AM on July 8, 2013


I've got nothing against Huey Lewis, but I never liked his music. It was frat boy, commercial drivel back then and, though the light of nostalgia makes it seem sweeter today, it pretty much still is. Obviously as a hard-working showman he's beyond reproach.

I have the same problem with him, Phil Collins, and some Hall and Oates...that 80s production was bad back then and almost unlistenable to me now. I wish all those guys would remake their greatest hits, but stripped of all the cheese and schlock and just leave the songs. Not unplugged, just un-80s them completely.

Sorry, but I think you're doing it wrong. You can take Huey Lewis out of the 80s, but you can't take the 80s out of Huey Lewis.
posted by nowhere man at 4:45 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rock is dead, they say.

Except now, fellow olds, it's a zombie army. On tour.

To our kids we might as well be discussing Glen Miller.
posted by spitbull at 4:45 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I heard the hits from Sports so many damn times that I'm still pretty sick of them, but at the same time I can admire how excruciatingly tight the band sounds.

Also, WRT backlining, it does make a lot of sense, especially with the shabby treatment that musical instruments can get on airlines these days. It also reminds me of something that I'd read about Chuck Berry, back when he was touring: he'd essentially backline the entire band. All he did was play his 50s hits, and so he'd contract with a local band that knew his stuff, show up for the gig with his guitar, plug it in, and do the show without a rehearsal or even a sound check.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I recall one time about 1989 or so, I was flying home from the mainland and had a layover at SFO. I spent a couple of hours in a bar at the airport where the entire decor was dedicated to Huey Lewis and the News. I already liked their music, so I thought it was pretty cool.
posted by scottymac at 5:38 AM on July 8, 2013


To our kids we might as well be discussing Glen Miller.

My kid still listens to rock'n'roll, mostly metal and he probably hates Mr. Lewis but rock's not quite dead.
posted by octothorpe at 5:39 AM on July 8, 2013


Wikipedia now says (regarding Heart of Rock and Roll):

Different versions of the single were sent to different radio markets, with Lewis ad libbing the names of nearby towns after his stock ad libs of "Cleveland! Detroit!"[citation needed]

I don't know when the [citation needed] got stuck there. I have also heard this before but I can't recall the source. This seems like an easy thing to find out but when you google the song most of the google results are stupid lyrics sites.
posted by bukvich at 6:10 AM on July 8, 2013


It's tough. You can only rehearse so many songs and keep them tight, and unless you're born a stand-up comic (and even then) there's only so many stories you can tell about any particular song, and one of them's bound ot be the most interesting.

It's always a bit sad when formerly great live bands just fall into a rut, where the style of the songs and even the banter gets cemented and never changes. Great the first time you see them, but the second time is usually the last then.
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on July 8, 2013


Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the particular kind of '80s music found on Sports is pretty much exactly the same as that on ZZ Top's Eliminator from the same year, right? "Gimme All Your Lovin'"? "Sharp Dressed Man"? "Legs"? These might as well be Huey Lewis songs. Plus there's the Back to the Future connection.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2013


(Also Robert Palmer. "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Addicted to Love" are basically the same song.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:33 AM on July 8, 2013


spitbull:
To our kids we might as well be discussing Glen Miller.
I don't know how they react to Huey and the News but I know the high school kids my wife teaches loves them some Journey.
posted by charred husk at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2013


One of my favorite Weird Al parodies: I want a new duck
posted by cell divide at 7:13 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how touring this much even works. How do you keep a marriage together? Can you even have a cat? I heard that, when Willie Nelson is home, he continues to sleep in his tour bus - it's just parked in front of his house, where he doesn't really feel comfortable.
posted by thelonius at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2013


Rock is dead, they say.

They say heart of rock and roll has stopped beatin'
Or at least that's what ev'rybody's tweetin'
Now I guess it doesn't bear repeatin'
But the heart of rock and roll, the heart of rock and roll looked like Keaton ... Michael!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:55 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When The Power of Love came out I was just finished with college. My long term girlfriend and I were going through one of those very slow, long, drawn out breakups. We had lived together for a while and she had moved out a few months before. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon and we decided to go see Back to the Future together. What a great movie! What a great song! It was one of those times when you get out of a movie and your spirit is lifted and life seems great because it was such an exhilarating experience. We got in the car. I dropped her off at her new place. She said goodbye. Then I went home and got depressed.
posted by freakazoid at 8:15 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that the Grantland guy claims Huey Lewis's pop instincts are still in order because he can discern that the kids today don't want to hear about a 62-year-old's life.
posted by kenko at 8:17 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


All this Huey Lewis and the News love, but nary a mention of Sha Na Na, HL&TN's obvious forebear.

WTF is going on MeFi today? Just this past weekend, I was having a conversation (the first in like DECADES) about Huey Lewis and the News (Sports was the first non-"kids music" album I ever owned; I adored it so much that when the local (Philly) radio station went through their "Top 84 Hits of 1984", I marked on the lyric sleeve of Sports the position of each song from the album that was featured) and how big a fan I was at one point, and then later that same night I was trawling through YouTube because I was thinking back to that god-awful Sha Na Na variety show from the late 70s (which I loved at the time, but hey, I was four). Two bands I haven't heard anything from in forever and haven't talked to anyone about in about the same time, and they're BOTH mentioned in this thread.

Are you people living in my head?
posted by grubi at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2013


Are you people living in my head?

Yes, it's roomier and cheaper than most apartments in the city.

Speaking of Sha Na Na, how freaking bizarre is it that they played Woodstock?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post led me to this "I Want a New Drug"/"Ghostbuster" mashup, which is oddly mesmerizing in the sense that it makes you realize the all circa-1984 era pop hits had incredibly similar tonal qualities: the same keyboard patches, the same gated drums, the same slightly tinny guitar sound, the same sax bleats, even similar vocal deliveries. Don't get me wrong, I loved both songs when they came out, and both still bring a smile to my face. But I do wonder if you couldn't just mash up the entire mid-80s oeuvre and not really notice the difference.

I wouldn't think so, considering that Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. over "similarities" between the two songs.
posted by darksasami at 9:00 AM on July 8, 2013


Speaking of Sha Na Na, how freaking bizarre is it that they played Woodstock?

And the crowd loved it. See also Festival Express for more fun times with Sha Na Na singing to the hippies, er, young people.
posted by freakazoid at 9:06 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Different versions of the single were sent to different radio markets, with Lewis ad libbing the names of nearby towns after his stock ad libs of "Cleveland! Detroit!"[citation needed]

I don't know when the [citation needed] got stuck there. I have also heard this before but I can't recall the source. This seems like an easy thing to find out but when you google the song most of the google results are stupid lyrics sites.


I never heard this about "Heart of Rock and Roll", but I know Starship did something similar for "We Built This City", because every time I heard it in the Philly area, our local station somehow got included in that one little break. Years later, I heard a different local version and thought something had gone wrong.
posted by grubi at 9:07 AM on July 8, 2013


Yes, it's roomier and cheaper than most apartments in the city.

And it's crazy-adjacent.
posted by grubi at 9:08 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never heard this about "Heart of Rock and Roll", but I know Starship did something similar for "We Built This City"

Pointer Sisters also did it for "Fire" where they dropped in the call letters of the larger stations.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:09 AM on July 8, 2013


Speaking of Sha Na Na, how freaking bizarre is it that they played Woodstock?

Not at all? I mean, you get that Sha Na Na were being ironic, right? They were way ahead of the curve, and led directly -- and I mean directly -- to the Ramones. The rest is history.

And, seriously, Teen Angel was quite possibly the second most prescient song performed at Woodstock after the Fixin' to Die Rag.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still remember being four, rolling up my t-shirt sleeves above my shoulders, and putting on my best itty-bitty Bowser impression. That tiny child, putting on a show as a faux Brooklyn tough, failing miserably at the basso voice.

Good times.
posted by grubi at 9:46 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, Sha Na Na functionally reinvented the 50s into the nostalgic era we now remember.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're further now from New Jack Swing than Sha Na Na's Woodstock appearance was from actually 50s music. Instant nostalgia, I guess.
posted by grubi at 10:21 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I often point out that to kids today, the Beatles are the equivalent of *Al Jolson* to those of us in our 40s and 50s when we were kids. Not just old. Really fucking old.

Of course they are interested in it. They seem to like Jane Austen novels too. Nostalgia/retro rock is, however, not rock at all as I grew up understanding it, which is to say as a vital cultural force for social change. Can you imagine any rock band today having anything like the influence the Clash had in the early 1980s on society at large?

Sorry, but that role has gone over to hiphop. Kids liking rock today doesn't mean rock isn't dead, just that it's a zombie cultural force. I hate to say it. I hate to admit it, because it means I am as old as feel when I see late night TV ads for former rock stars' latest records. The music isn't dead, and supposedly "indy rock" carries the culture forward, but from what I can tell, it has about three percent as much social influence as, say, the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen did in their time. And honestly, by the time Huey Lewis was big, you could already smell the death stench from punk's corpse.

It's ok to be old. Really it is. Might as well enjoy telling those young kids to get off our fucking lawns.
posted by spitbull at 10:52 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


PS -- that said, I'd love to see a stirring defense of rock's relevance from someone under 30. Anyone got any links?
posted by spitbull at 10:54 AM on July 8, 2013


Ah! According to Wikipedia, Lewis did send out different edits of "Heart of Rock and Roll" to different markets. Well. That clears up a mystery I've vaguely wondered about for 25 years or so. Would be fun to have every version on one cd.

THANK YOU. I've been wondering for years if it was just a dream that I, still living in the midwest at the time, heard "St. Louis" and "Champaign, Illinois!" in "The Heart of Rock & Roll." Apparently it was not.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:56 AM on July 8, 2013


*offers some Koapectate*
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on July 7 [+] [!]



Yes folks, now you can have the gastrointestinal relief you need, with the warmth and resonance of a fine instrument tonewood! New Koa-pectate! It'll clear the fretwork from neck to nut!
posted by stenseng at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2013


From across the river, I seethed to hear "Minneapolis!"

What, for nationwide release? I think not.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2013


Okay - couple of thoughts - one, WTF Mefi - why are we suddenly cool with throwing around retarded as a pejorative?

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the particular kind of '80s music found on Sports is pretty much exactly the same as that on ZZ Top's Eliminator from the same year, right? "Gimme All Your Lovin'"? "Sharp Dressed Man"? "Legs"? These might as well be Huey Lewis songs. Plus there's the Back to the Future connection.


Uh, unless you're talking about thematic elements to the lyrics, which are pretty general "that chick is hot, I've got a fast car, let's party all night, I'm a badass, she's a badass" staples of a LOT of rock and pop, I'm completely lost.

Musically and stylistically, HL&TN and 80's era ZZ Top couldn't be much different.
posted by stenseng at 11:27 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record I am kind of stunned at the love fest, although Lewis comes off as a really good guy.

ZZ top - they swung hard to the 80's top 40 sound, on purpose, I think, hiring a guy to do drum programming and generally put the 80's sheen on their big Texas blues-rock sound, which, of course, turned out to be a winning formula with "Eliminator".
posted by thelonius at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2013


And one day everything you’re listening to now will be comedy material for someone, and the 80’s synth sound will be really cool.
posted by bongo_x


Oh, no doubt you are right. But I WAS THERE, MAN. I was even in bands. We opened for The Bodeans! I wanted a Steinberger L-2 so bad it hurt. I am allowed to make fun of the 80's, I think!
posted by thelonius at 12:23 PM on July 8, 2013


For the record I am kind of stunned at the love fest, although Lewis comes off as a really good guy.

No kidding, this all sounds kinda weirdly revisionist to me. Huey Lewis? I'm sure he's a great guy to have a beer w/, but the music... I hear people basically raving "he's so competent!" and I can't understand how that's exciting. But hey,people might feel the same way about the Dream Syndicate if anybody knew who they were, so what the hell.

"Your favorite band is super-professional and inoffensive."

/told 'em!
posted by hap_hazard at 12:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the record I am kind of stunned at the love fest

The power of love is a curious thing.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't know, man. The 80s were a really, really dark time.
posted by nevercalm at 5:05 PM on July 7


This word you use. I do not think it means what you think it means
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2013


And one day everything you’re listening to now will be comedy material for someone, and the 80’s synth sound will be really cool.

That day is already here. Listened to any Com Truise lately?
posted by asterix at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2013


I hear people basically raving "he's so competent!" and I can't understand how that's exciting

I feel like this whenever I recommend Spoon to anyone I know. "They're really consistently good! And consistent! Really!"
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2013


Yeah, I dunno what I was thinking with the ZZ Top comparison. I guess I was a little too young in the eighties and have some sort of primal Huey Lewis / Robert Palmer confusion going on, probably because they were both 30-something white guys who sort of look alike and got a lot of airtime around the same time. I know full well which one's which, but for whatever reason the name Huey Lewis conjures up the music of Robert Palmer every dang time. And there are definitely similarities between Robert Palmer and ZZ Top.

In conclusion: Nevermind, y'all. I'm just stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2013


Not to pile on, but I can see much closer a link between Huey and Robert Palmer than I can with either and ZZ Top. Huey and Robert Palmer made feel good bar band pop rock, although Palmer was more pop than rock. ZZ Top was doing Texas electric blues with sequenced synths. The biggest similarities between the three are hot chicks with huge hair in their respective music videos. But that was true of nearly any 80s band with a music video.
posted by stenseng at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meh. I stand by my assertion that Sharp Dressed Man and Addicted to Love differ only superficially.

(Also the Robert Palmer models did not have huge hair.)

/derail
posted by Sys Rq at 2:00 PM on July 8, 2013


I do think that ZZ Top moved significantly closer to mainstream pop with their eighties albums (as did, for that matter, Bowie and Springsteen), but that's in comparison to their own work; there's no real similarity to HL&TN.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2013


I mean, you get that Sha Na Na were being ironic, right? They were way ahead of the curve, and led directly -- and I mean directly -- to the Ramones. The rest is history.

Skipping a phase, one of the Sha na's went on to manage Green Day.
posted by ovvl at 2:55 PM on July 8, 2013


primal Huey Lewis / Robert Palmer confusion

I will pay actual legal tender to hear Huey play with The Meters ("The Heart of Sneakin' Sally").

Lets go irrelevant rock industry. Make that happen.
posted by petebest at 4:35 PM on July 8, 2013


For the record I am kind of stunned at the love fest

Yeah, I think the somewhat unspoken thing here is that there was a significant amount of time where Huey Lewis was an easy target to kick around. There's a reason why chose them as one of the American Psycho's favorite bands--the dismissive antipathy was/is out there.

So some of the "They're so competent!" tone of this thread can potentially be linked to Huey Lewis becoming what Carl Wilson calls a guilty displeasure (as opposed to a guilty pleasure): the realization that hating on Huey is more likely to just make you seem assholian rather than the possessor of a superior sensibility.

I'm a little sheepish that I've become that guy who comes into every mainstream pop thread and recommends Carl Wilson's book on Celine Dion. It's just so good, I can't help myself.
posted by umbú at 4:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huey was the go-to guy in the mid-80s for fun, soulful, tight pop. His good-natured personality and sharp suits made him a natural for the still-newish MTV network. While I ditched my cassette of Sports for more rougher-edged sounds once I entered high school, Huey's music still sounds great and has aged ridiculously better than the mostly noxious 1980s output of Phil Collins, Billy Joel, etc.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:05 PM on July 8, 2013


My thoughts on Huey: He may be safe and boring, but at least he wasn't safe, boring, and reliant on auto-tune. As glossy as Sports is, it sounds like a Steve Albini production compared to most of the stuff being released today.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


elmer benson: "One of the funniest things I've ever seen at a show was when Huey walked up to the mic and said, "we'd like to perform some of our new songs for you..." and paused dramatically as I felt the crowd react with apprehension. "Nah, just kidding, here's some more hits!""

You know, there was a time when I would have thought that story was a perfect example why I'd never see a show like that, but these days I think, there's a guy who has made peace with himself and is having a great time.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, maybe he should do like Cheap Trick did and remake one of his albums w/ Albini, strip the 80's right off it. I'd give it a listen.
posted by hap_hazard at 8:25 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a little sheepish that I've become that guy who comes into every mainstream pop thread and recommends Carl Wilson's book on Celine Dion. It's just so good, I can't help myself.

I will second this recommendation.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on July 8, 2013


It also reminds me of something that I'd read about Chuck Berry, back when he was touring: he'd essentially backline the entire band.

Lots of older guys like him did/do that.
posted by bongo_x at 9:51 PM on July 8, 2013


I don't think rock and roll is dead and hip-hop has replaced it, it's just that music is so much more fragmented now that the mainstream is a much smaller percentage of what everyone is listening to. I doubt any specific strain of music will have the wide cultural influence that the rock of the 60s and 70s had. EDM is kind of exploding into the mainstream right now and fermenting with hip-hop in a pretty zeitgeisty way, but that's club music for club people, it's never going to completely permeate the culture.

Interestingly, the one album this summer that pretty much cuts across subcultural groups is Random Access Memories, which is straight-up disco. I don't know what conclusion to draw from that, except that Daft Punk set out to make an old-fashioned expensive album and turn it into an event, and succeeded.

Also: a lot of young people today had a classic rock phase and appreciate the music, while I get the sense that only a real jive turkey would have admitted to liking Al Jolson back then.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:40 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Huey. It's hip to be square.
posted by mooza at 11:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, Cheap Trick, Steve Albini, in a remake of In Color in recent years?

Quick search on Startpage (anonymized google search) brought me to a page with all those remade songs in a playlist. Very cool.

Mid 70s through mid 80s hard, hard times for me, even still today, the wrong song comes on and it takes me right back into it all -- yikes! (someone above referenced five 70s bands, I'm like "Hm, who is Firefall?" and I went out and searched wikipedia and youtube and listened to a couple of songs and one of them jabbed straight through, got to me deep in the heart.

Not that the Firefall song is majorly massive art or what-have-you, but it's keyed deep inside me, from so many times hearing it in those hard times. I'm Not In Love by 10 CC is another song that takes me right there, and in a dangerous way.

But Cheap Trick was not dangerous at all in that way, they were fun, they were tight, and they were local, to boot, and just rising through the small venues. Solid power-pop. Fun to listen to, fun to see, great driving around music.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:58 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the particular kind of '80s music found on Sports is pretty much exactly the same as that on ZZ Top's Eliminator from the same year, right? "Gimme All Your Lovin'"? "Sharp Dressed Man"? "Legs"?

(Also Robert Palmer. "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Addicted to Love" are basically the same song.)

Dude, no. The costumes are completely different.
posted by nowhere man at 5:02 AM on July 9, 2013


I don't think rock and roll is dead and hip-hop has replaced it

Nah, but the change from then to now (which started around the time Huey couldn't get on the air any more) is that hip hop and "country" music have replaced rock as the main forms of pop music. There are plenty of people out there making music in the Cheap Trick mold. Free Energy comes immediately to mind.
posted by yerfatma at 9:12 AM on July 9, 2013


He was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me a few weeks ago, and he was funny and unassuming.

And bringing back another tangent from earlier in the thread, Bobcat Goldthwait was one of the panelists. (He's been a recurring panelist on WWDTM of late. I thought his first few outings were kind of iffy, but he's been getting better.) Listen or read the transcript.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:27 AM on July 10, 2013


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