There has to be some reason I still own quite a bit of Huey Lewis and the News music.
Imagine having a hair-do that involved so much work and hairspray that by the time you left for school or work in the morning, it looked like you had used a small hand grenade to brush your hair. Poof! Hair! Everywhere! There was even a slang word used for it: a bouffant hair-do. I remember thinking that bouffant must have been the French word for “destroyer of ceiling fans,” but don’t quote me. Sadly, for some of us, that is not an imagined morning – it happened every day in the 1980’s. Big hair was in, mullet was still a fish and not a horrible hair style, and music had not yet degenerated into a place where one song is released as a country, rock, Christian, and rap song, just re-mixed for the genre of radio station it was being released upon.
In this idyllic and now gone world of still-unique lyrics and just-discovered Madonna madness, one set of stars rose and shone for a little while, upon a single band. That band had a few working-class hits, toured with the best of them, and managed a little over the top madness that put a few of their songs into the realm of “classic rock.” That band was Huey Lewis and the News.
I realized that I missed the sound of that band – that it had been years since I even listened to an album of theirs from start to finish. I pulled all the stuff down from the overpopulated attic, dusted off the cassette deck, rummaged through the stacks of clear plastic cassettes and for old time’s sake, set off on a quest to enjoy the memory of hours spent listening to the neo-doowop sound of Huey Lewis and the News. Their first album which really hit big was Sports, which contained the first of what would become the mega hits that defined first the band, and ultimately, that decade we now know as “the Eighties.” The big hits off of the Sports album included “The Heart of Rock’n’Roll,” a tune which would have delighted enthusiasts of Name That Tune the world over. The pulse-quickening sound of, well, a pulse… that opening heartbeat sequence for the “Heart of Rock’n’Roll” very quickly informed listeners that an awesome band was about to play. “If This is It” is another of their very finest, but the one that sold the most copies, was “I want a New Drug.” If you knew the 80’s, that song being extremely popular should not be a surprise at all.
In my quest to rediscover my collection of 80’s music, I also quickly found there was a reason cassettes are no longer sold. My once-powerful collection of metal-oxide tapes, with renowned ability to reproduce with startling trueness the awesome wonder that is Huey Lewis, had succumbed to the simple ravages of time. No, they still played just fine on the cassette deck, but the advent of digital music had left my ears crying out for a little more clarity as I sat at the corner of Memory Lane and Nostalgia Boulevard.
For all their awesome wonder, Huey Lewis and the News stand out as a definitive example of 1980’s music. Their music was not popular in 1979, nor was it by 1991. The entirety of their major mainstream success appears within the 1980’s. This is astounding, because they have an eclectic mix of music, even displaying a mastery of that rarest of forms, Zydeco. Even now, sometimes, my eyes glaze over and I move with automaton inevitability to my computer, open my media player and hit play. And my neighbors across the hundreds of inches between my walls and theirs reach for their ear plugs when they hear the first few chords of a song being played far too loud. Then, as the music rises, and the singing starts, my neighbors do something curious. They realize it is Huey Lewis and the News that they’re hearing, and they take off their ear plugs, and for a little while, retreat with me to the land before Madonna, before Britney, to the land of hand-grenade hairdos: The Eighties.
If you want to take Huey Lewis and the News for a test spin around your digital player’s hard drive, or music chip, cell phone, or memory implant, or whatever newest technology you have lying around, you can find them for sale here:
ITunes – Yes, ITunes, a 21st century media powerhouse, has lowly 1980’s music.
CD Universe – get it here, while it’s hot!
Napster – The original music sharing site that ticked off the RIAA.
Amazon – buy Sports, the album reviewed in this article, here.
Best Buy – yes, Best Buy can get it for you!