Alright, so last week it was announced that “Huey Lewis and the News” is going to play a couple of concerts in town. At a casino, no less, which feels just about perfect, right?
[editor’s note. I just finished reading this novel, Night Film, that had its moments but over all was a bit disappointing. One of the things about it was that it overused italics so much that it really really got annoying. And I thought to myself, “Jeez, I use italics QUITE A BIT on Mountains Beyond Mountains. Is it as annoying for the fanbase here as it was for me in Night Film? I can’t tell. Let me know in the comments below. I feel like a blog is different enough from a novel that the italics use is okay. Plus, I’m not pretending to be a great writer on here, and italics are easy lazy shorthand to show emphasis on something. I suppose I could cut back on them a bit and see what happens. BUT I WON”T CUT BACK ON THE HODGMAN CAPS. Those are here to stay I’m afraid. But that’s not what this blog post is about.]
So Huey Lewis+News+Casino=Happy 12 year old Me.
A bit of history: (here we go, I can hear the fanbase sigh to themselves). Before U2 stole my heart in grade 7 and forced me to give up all other bands, I “played the field” musically in my upper elementary school years. If you poked your head into my box of cassettes back then, you’d surely find some Corey Hart, Glass Tiger, Cyndi Lauper, Thompson Twins, Dire Straits, and of course a few soundtracks like the previously blogged about Young Sherlock Holmes and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nothing too shocking or unexpected in there, right? I think my edgiest cassette was Helix’s Walking the Razor’s Edge, purchased solely for the song Rock You. I did that back then, I’d get a whole album for just one song. I know that there was such as thing as cassette singles, but I sure as hell didn’t know where to find them, so I ended up buying the whole damn album, which explains why I had Autograph’s Sign in Please (for Turn up the Radio) and Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger Album (for Eye of the Tiger, obs).
It was years before I got into what the cool kids were into. The Smiths, R.E.M. The Cure. Talking Heads, etc Stuff I still like today and think back on with nostaglic sentimentality. BUT IT IS A FALSE SENTIMENTALITY, since I didn’t get into those bands until much much later.
I also had Huey Lewis and the News’ album Fore. I bought this cassette because I clearly remember being over at my friend Jon’s house one day after school. I’m sure he had lots of other cassettes, but I only remember two distinctly. Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports. We would play them on this really rudimentary cassette player in his parent’s basement. This thing looked like a cross between something you’d find in a 1980’s police interrogation room and something that E.T. would have incorporated into his fucked up intergalactic telephone/signal sender thingie.
I wish I could say that it was Born in the USA that left the biggest impression on me. That I was into Springsteen as far back as elementary school. But that wasn’t me and it wasn’t true. I’m happy to report I was just as uncool in elementary school as I am now. At least I am consistent. I liked a couple of songs off of Springsteen’s album, especially I’m on Fire and Glory Days, but it was Huey Lewis that really caught my attention. I didn’t know much about them, but they came around right when the music video was coming into its own, and their videos were light, fun and goofy, often poking fun at the band as much as anything else. They were never cutting edge, but they never really tried to be. It was part of their charm. It’s no surprise that one of their biggest hits was called Hip to be Square, after all. For your consideration: the video for I want a new drug. If you think it sounds like the Ghostbusters theme, so did the News, and they sued Ray Parker Jr. over it.
I didn’t want to be a “copycat” so I never bought a copy of Sports on my own. I didn’t even think to ask Jon if I could dub a copy. I don’t know. I guess it didn’t cross my mind that I could do that.
Anyway, I loved that cassette and when the follow-up, Fore!, came out a couple of years later. I didn’t hesitate. I bought it with my allowance money and played the heck out of it. That same year, Huey Lewis and the News had their arguably biggest hit with The Power of Love from the Back to the Future soundtrack. I had that one too. And fun fact: Huey Lewis had a cameo in the movie as the square School Board member who told Marty McFly that his music was just “too darn loud”. Things were looking up for Huey and the boys. The future was bright!
But then grade seven happened and my cousin gave me his copy of The Joshua Tree and nothing was ever the same after that. By the time Small World came out a couple of years later in 1988, I was over them. They were Old News, I guess.
So fast forward to this week and the concert announcement. I think it would be pretty fun to see these guys in concert. My 12-year-old self would flip if he knew that this opportunity would present itself at some point in my future. I should try to get tickets for that reason alone. It might be really sad, or it might be just plain fun. I’m willing to take that risk. And also, I heard Huey Lewis interviewed on a recent episode of Bullseye, and he seems like a decent dude, for what it’s worth. I just looked him up. He was born in 1950, which makes him 63. That’s just one year older than Sting, and a whole decade younger than Paul Simon, and Paul Simon and Sting are doing a 20 date tour around the States right now. In fact four friends are headed down to Minneapolis today as I write these very words to see Sting and Paul Simon, so if they can show that kind of dedication to a couple of old dudes, the least I can do is drive across town to the casino for Huey Lewis, right?
So here is my conundrum, fanbase.
Which album do I download before the concert? I’ve decided I’m not going to spend more than $10 on Huey Lewis music, especially since the concert tickets will already be in the $60 range. Here are my options. I’ve narrowed them down to three.
- Fore! It is the sentimental choice. It is the only Huey Lewis album I ever owned, and I had it on cassette. I knew every song and the order they came. I even knew when the little “blip blip blip blip bloop” sound happened before each side and it would be great to listen to it in its entirety again. Every song would bring back a flood of memories.
- Sports This is really the seminal Huey Lewis album. It’s got Heart of Rock ‘n Roll, I want a New Drug (and you have to appreciate that they actually write out “want to”, not “wanna”. Classy.) I never had this album as a kid, but it is the album I always wanted and now this would be my chance to finally get it. There’s even some crazy 30th anniversary deluxe edition on there that I could get. Take that, Jon!
- Greatest Hits Yes, I know. I hate “Greatest Hits” albums as much as anyone. They are soulless compilations put together by faceless suited executives, and contain nothing of the artistic intention of the original artist. (Listen to me, talking like Huey Lewis is Lou Reed or something. He isn’t, obviously. But I still can’t shake that Kids in the Hall line about Greatest Hits albums being for housewives and little girls.)
So here are my choices. If you were me, which one would you pick? I was mulling this over the other day when a friend dropped in to the library. I respect this friend’s taste, knowledge and opinion in most things, but especially in matters of music. I related to him my conundrum and also told him I was leaning towards the Greatest Hits album.
He shared my distaste towards compilations like these, but you can’t argue with basic commerce. Sports has 9 songs, and Fore! has 10. Both albums are listed at $9.99 on iTunes. The Greatest Hits, however, has twenty-one songs, and it’s listed at $7.99! I’d get Heart of Rock ‘n Roll, I Want a New Drug, and If this is It off of Sports, Jacob’s Ladder, Stuck with You, Doing it all for my Baby, and Hip to Be Square off of Fore! and The Power of Love from the Back to the Future Soundtrack. Twenty one songs for $7.99! I’m not great at math, but that’s like under a dollar per song, right? My friend made a good point too. He asked me how often would I actually sit down and listen to Fore! all the way through. I guessed probably once, and then I’d say, “Huh” and never listen to it again. It’s not like I was buying the vinyl, you know, dusting it off in front of a lady or something. I’m just buying the computer file. And I’m not really even buying that, am I? If you want to get all Cory Doctorow on me, I’m merely buying the right to have access to a music file that’s so laced in DRM you should really wear gloves when you handle it. It’s meaningless. My friend suggested that I could even change the album art on iTunes if I wanted to trick myself into thinking I was listening to Fore! and Sports.
I don’t know. If I listen to Patrick Bateman, I think he’d have me get Sports, although he sure seems to like Hip to be Square from Fore!, doesn’t he?
[warning. it gets bloody around the 1:40 mark]
So it sounds like I’m settled on the Greatest Hits, but I’m going to mull this over a bit more. I have until Thursday anyway. That’s when the concert tickets go on sale. This “newly renovated casino theatre” is “newly renovated” but it is still a “casino theatre”, so I don’t think it’s huge. I hear it can seat 1400 and there will be two shows, but I have no way of gauging the “Huey Lewis” interest in this town. Will the place sell out in minutes, or will there be tumbleweeds blowing through the encores? If I don’t get tickets, it makes the downloading question easier. I just won’t bother. I’ll save my money for some future road trip to see Bruce Springsteen.