10/28/09

Why I Still Love Huey Lewis...and always will


When I was a kid, I simply could not fathom the idea that there were people who didn’t like Huey Lewis and the News. Mr. Lewis was one of my favorite celebrities. In my eyes, he was right up there with Michael J. Fox and Patrick Stewart. While other girls were obsessing over the “New Kids on The Block”, I was steadily crushing on him instead. And I couldn’t understand what all those other girls saw in all the regulars from Tiger Beat.

After all, my Huey was the voice of a generation. He was the genius behind the “Back to the Future” theme song. He was a music-video super star. I mean, have you seen the video for, “Happy To Be Stuck With You”? (That song, by the way, was played in my wedding ceremony with the slide show before everyone’s walk down the aisle. And it was perfect.)

So not only did he leave his stamp (and a cameo appearance) on one of the classic film franchises of all time, and grace the small screen regularly in entertaining videos, but he was also a good role model. A good role model from rock and roll? "Impossible!" you say. Well, you're wrong.

It was the eighties, while everyone else was singing about sex, drugs, and rock n’roll, Huey was just singing about the latter. Thanks to him, I STILL believe that it’s hip to be a square. You just try finding another top 40 hit that talks about staying fit, watching what you eat, not cheating on your spouse, and getting a nice haircut. Go on…I dare you.
But two disturbing things happened to me when I was a kid that caused me to raise an eyebrow over my beloved Huey and his merry band of back-up singers.

Trauma the first: I was watching, “Amazon Women on The Moon” one day. (If you don’t know what that is, I will let you find out for yourself.) In a Twilight Zone-ish side plot, a man is magically transported into his television and his wife has the remote. As she changes channels to attempt to free him from his entertainment prison, he takes a zany adventure through many t.v. shows and films.

At one point, he ends up as one of “the News” in the Huey Lewis video for the smash hit, “If This Is It”. (I can call it a smash if I want to, it’s my blog.) I remember seeing that and thinking, “Whoa…lucky guy!” Just as I was thinking that, the man turns to his wife while everyone else is singing and starts talking about how he’d rather be anywhere but in a Huey Lewis video. I brushed it off as peculiar, but it did set me to wondering.

Trauma the second: A year or so later, I was at the mall with my family. I saw one of those sandwich boards sitting in the middle of the food court. You know the kind, nothing fancy, plastic letters, white background, and more often than not some sort of food stain.
On that sandwich board, very unceremoniously, was an announcement about Huey Lewis and the News coming to play the mall. My first thought was, “How do I get myself to THAT concert?”

My second thought was, “Wait a minute, what is Huey doing playing in a mall? (Long thoughtful pause) He should be playing giant stadiums. They should be doing, “Duran Duran” sized tours. Right? RIGHT?!”

For some kids, the beginning of the end of childhood arrives via some accidental information about where babies come from or what holiday entity may or may not be real. (I dare not publish anything more specific.) But that was it for me. Right there.

The thought that the masses didn’t love Huey Lewis plunged me into the depths of a highly philosophical line of questioning. I was born a populist, a happy person. So Huey Lewis typically suits my mood. Always has and at age 27, I feel confident enough to say that it always will.

But at that moment, little Audrey was suddenly aware that there were people in the world who wouldn’t get Huey's brand of happy. Also, I wondered, what had made Huey uncool? When had the transition happened and why hadn't anyone told me about it?

I was so bummed that I never even asked my parents to bring me back to see him in all his glory. Because Huey Lewis playing a mall just didn't feel right. It’s not where he belonged. It's not the way I wanted to see him, like some sort of caged rock and roll animal. That would be like taking Stevie Wonder and making him the featured performer on “The Lawrence Welk Show”. It’s kind of just...wrong.

As the years have gone by, I’ve continued to be baffled by people’s lack of appreciation for Huey Lewis and the News. I can understand when we laugh at videos from the 80's or old hairstyles, but the honest truth is, the man made good music. And good music never goes out of style.
Huey deserves our respect. He and the News made happy rock, rock without angst, but rock still loaded with what I believe Jack Black would call, "face-melting greatness". When a Huey Lewis song comes on, you just can't help but feel good or sing along. That’s a feat of no small proportion for any artist, whether you like to feel happy or not.

I often question why they aren’t working anymore, and I wonder when will the day come that people wake up and realize that Huey has been unfairly stigmatized? There was Huey’s appearance in the film, “Duets”, which I know he caught flack for.

I hear people talking about the band sarcastically now and again on one of those endless cable clip shows about the eighties. And it still irks me. I kid you not, I actually really get to feeling defensive. It's easy to mock anything from the eighties, but some things just shouldn't be lumped in with Zubaz pants and flourescent everything and El DeBarge.

But even if the world today doesn't know what to do with Huey Lewis and his upbeat message and his short-haired rock and roll…I know a place where he’ll always belong. Forever in my Ipod and safe in my heart. I still love you Huey.






P.S. I just watched some of these videos for myself and I can honestly tell you, my heart still kind of skips a beat when I see him...